Vendors who lost their stalls, agricultural produce among other items in a fire at the Castries Market area on Sunday night, March 25, believe they were the victims of arson.
The Saint Lucia Fire Service were contacted at 11:05 p.m. regarding the market/tents fire and 10:19 p.m. for the Folk Reasearch Centre building, which was totally destroyed.
At least three stalls were reportedly destroyed. However, the owners of the stalls have not wasted any time in rebuilding. They pointed out in interviews with HTS that the Easter season is usually a viable period for conducting business in the market.
One of the affected vendors, Gishleine Estava, said: “…. I always used to take out my tarpaulin… I didn’t take it out the Saturday, so when I arrived there I seeing everything, they looking strange. I seeing my tarpaulin is not there. I seeing my trays, my bench, everything is black, everything burnt down. I saying ‘what?’ When I check on the other side, I seeing some flames still going on with my friends stuff: her grapefruit, her tomatoes. All that got burnt down. I myself was shocked. I even had a headache. Up to now I have that headache. But God is in control of everything. I go, I buy some materials to start all over, because it is the Easter season.”
Sandra Edmund, another vendor, told HTS that she lost an entire stock of tomatoes, cucumbers, and grapefruits. She too, has started to rebuild.
“Well, is the Easter week. I cannot stay, so I have to try and build my thing back and sell for the Easter,” she said in response to the reporter’s question.
Sandra said the La Clery bus drivers and some fishermen have been helping her out. She said it will cost about $700 to replace everything. “Because that was my money for me to have invest for the Easter, now I have to go and to spend it to buy the material back,” she said.
Her sister, Patricia Edmund, said she lost two tables, umbrellas, benches, trolleys, and a bag of tamarinds that was under one of the tables.
A La Clery bus driver told HTS that he too believes that someone maliciously set the vendors’ properties on fire.
“When I came in this (Monday) morning about after four, minutes to five, I saw everything was on fire. I mean the person who do that shouldn’t be doing these kinds of things because everybody needs to make a living. No matter what the case may be, you cannot just do that so. But some of the fellas would know who did that. There are people around who would know,” he said.
The vendors told HTS that they have since been visited by the Castries Market manager and representatives from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The cause of the fires are still under investigation.