Blaze causes extensive damage to Negombo building

By Franklin R. Satyapalan

The fire brigade was summoned to fight a blaze which erupted in an upper floor of St. Jude’s building in the heart of Negombo on Friday night, police said.

It was around 1 am on Saturday when fire fighters brought the situation under control after a four-hour battle.

Police said the building housed a computer instruction class on three floors, while the ground level had some shops.

The damage was extensive though no estimate was immediately available. All the computers and equipment on the three floors worth millions of rupees had been destroyed in the blaze, police said.

Police identified the owner of the building as Weweldeniya Sebastian Harold Fernando, a resident of Pitipana North, Negombo.

Negombo HQI, CI Samanthilaka Weliwita said the police were alerted by a passer-by of a fire in a building opposite the main bus terminal at Sir Nicholas Marcus Fernando Mawatha around 8.45 pm.

He said that fire fighting unit attached to the Negombo Municipal Council had been alerted by a bystander who had rung 119. The police had to assist the firemen by halting the operation of trains on the tracks, which run parallel to the building, he said.

The HQI said that there was no immediate suspicion of arson, but a report from the Government Analyst’s Department was awaited.

Negombo Fire Brigade chief, Saman Wijesinghe said that he was alerted around 9.10 pm and he deployed two bowsers, a fire truck and extension ladders with a unit led by fire officer-in-charge, Indika Suriarachchi.

OIC Suriarachchi said that fighting the fire was difficult as the entrance to the building and the passage leading to the staircase were locked.

There were no emergency fire exits and firemen had to break into the building from the rear using extension ladders and fight the blaze for over four hours, he said.

"We ensured that the blaze didn’t spread to adjoining buildings", he noted.

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