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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO, Suriname–Fire claimed three wooden buildings in the historic inner city of Paramaribo Tuesday morning. The blaze that ignited around 8.00am, apparently started in a vacant building and quickly devoured two other buildings. By the time firefighters were able to bring it under their control, a boutique, a hardware store and a shipping agency located on the corner of the Jodenbree and Keizer streets had burned down.
The intensity of the fire gave the firemen a run for their money. News reports say the 40,000 liters of water they had available in their crash tenders were spent in no time, so water had to be pumped from the Suriname River, several hundred meters from where the buildings were ablaze. The Keizer and Jodenbree Streets being two of the busiest arteries of the town, the fire brought traffic to a virtual standstill until police were able to reroute it.
But the firemen’s inability to quickly control the fire soon prompted criticism. “Every time it rains this part of town is inundated; how come now there is no fire hydrant available there then?” one bystander commented. Fire chief Cecil Waal however insisted that his men did what they could. “All available manpower was deployed,” he said.
The blaze also reignited criticism regarding the vacant buildings in town. Many of the buildings are not properly maintained by their owners and are taken over by vagrants and junkies. “Well, this is the result,” one lady whose family’s property burned down, said.
Mostly the news that fire had again claimed buildings in Paramaribo saddened many. Many of the wooden buildings are remnants of the Dutch colonial history, and date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. UNESCO placed the city on its World Heritage List, characterizing the capital as “an exceptional fusion of European architecture and construction techniques with indigenous South America materials and crafts.”
A coveted spot on a prestigious list, but one secured by the presence of old wooden buildings that are easy prey to flames. Over the years several historic beautiful buildings have been lost to fire.