Fire causes severe damage to Old School apartments | THE DAILY HERALD

The burnt-out apartments at the Old School building

 ST. EUSTATIUS–The Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department BKCN in St. Eustatius was dispatched to Breedeweg as a section of the Old School apartment building was engulfed in flames.

  Firefighters primarily worked to contain the raging fire after enquiring to confirm that no one was inside the building and that all four persons who lived in the apartments were accounted for.

  The fire was so hot that the shrubbery on the other side of the street was scorched.

  Ten firefighters fought the fire for several hours, under coordination of Fire Chief Andre Bennett and Acting Fire Chief Chester Tearr.

  They fought the fire from inside and from the outside of the building. Teams of two to three fire personnel entered the building in the attempt to contain and extinguish the fire from inside, while the other firefighters combated the fire from outside the building. Both fire trucks were used to combat the blaze. The fire hydrants were also utilised so that the fire trucks were never without water.

  Police officers were on the scene to block off the higher street. Many persons were out and about to see if the building could be saved because it primarily consisted of wood.

The exterior of the Old School building one day after the fire.

  An employee of St. Eustatius Utility Company STUCO shut off the electricity for safety reasons. Power to the area was not restored until after 1:00am Friday. The fire was completely extinguished around 1:30am.

  Bennett said the individuals who lived in the apartments were sheltered by family members in anticipation of the necessary assistance from the public entity St. Eustatius.

  “When taking into account that 60 per cent of the building was made of wood, we must conclude that the Fire Department did a good job in containing the fire [and preventing it – Ed.] from burning completely or spreading to surrounding buildings in the immediate vicinity,” Bennett said.

  One person said that while driving around 10:05pm on Kerkweg, which is in the immediate vicinity of Breedeweg, smoke could be smelled, but said it could not be ascertained at the time where the smoke was coming from. Smoke spread all the way to Orange Bay.

  The upper section of the building was severely damaged by the blaze, whereas the lower floor sustained minor damage.

  The Old School apartments are managed by the St. Eustatius Monuments Foundation.

  At this moment the cause of the fire is unknown, Chief Bennett said.

Source: The Daily Herald