Police are following a new lead that a city businessman paid two men to set the Gafoors Houston Complex on fire.
One of the two men was detained and during questioning allegedly told investigators that he and his accomplice were paid to commit the act, a source close to the investigation disclosed.
The source stated that the businessman, who is the owner of a dry goods business, allegedly paid the two men $40,000 to torch the bond. The source said the suspect reportedly told the Police that he and his accomplice were responsible for the two fires that devastated Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sattaur Gafoor and hundreds of his workers.
Within the span of a few hours of reopening his bond, which was razed by a fire just four months ago, Gafoor was forced to watch the rebuilt bond go up in flames with his Christmas stock. The CEO has since hired a private investigator to investigate the matter because he believes that the fire was arson.
The source said further that the suspect (name withheld) was caught red handed in an attempt to set the Complex on fire for a third time on Saturday.
The suspect, the source said, is a former employee of Gafoors. Meanwhile, Gafoor confirmed that the Police had arrested someone and that the arrest was made Sunday morning at about 04:00h.
“I have avoided confrontation with anybody at all cost so I don’t know who would do this because I have no problems with anyone,” Gafoor told Guyana Times.
He had previously stated that despite what persons might think, he did everything within his power to prevent another fire and so it shocked him when in “just 10 hours after we opened the bond, it burnt down”.
The veteran Guyanese industrialist had told the media that the previous fire placed a lot of financial strain on the company and the Board of Directors had taken a decision on what to do in the event of another occurrence.
He lamented that all of his stocks for the Christmas season were destroyed, and that although he has insurance for the building and the stocks, he was not insured for the profits lost.
“Within 64 years there has never been a fire,” he lamented.
“It was literally impossible for it to take place,” he said in referring to Monday’s fire, adding that it left him totally “lost for words”.
“If you were in my place, what would you do if there was a third fire? It’s not that easy to start back again,” he said.
Officer-in-Charge of Operations at the Guyana Fire Service, Compton Sparman had indicated that the Fire Service was also baffled by the fire, since there was no electricity or any heat source to start the fire.
He stated that the materials stored in the bond were tiles and white cement and a small number of Christmas decorations.
“So, we want to know how it could propagate at that level. No electricity, if you look it is a bond that was constructed based on the last fire that they would have had. But because I think they cramp for space make they use the bond. No electricity, no form of heat source that dwells within, so we will have to dig deep. Nobody was inside,” he said, adding, “It started in Bond Six and confined in it…”
When contacted on Monday for an update on the fire, Fire Chief Marlon Gentle stated that he was not aware of anyone being arrested;however, he said the Guyana Fire Service’s investigation was ongoing.