May 31, 2010
Nassau, Bahamas - Almost nine years after the world famous Bay Street Straw Market went up in flames, scores of straw vendors suffered another blow as one of two single-story Cable Beach Straw market structures suffered a similar fate. In the early morning hours of Saturday, the wooden structure, which housed approximately 36 stalls, was completely destroyed by fire.
Fire officials believe that an arsonist/s may have started the blaze, putting as much as 70 people out of work.
Police Press Liaison Officer Sergeant Chrislyn Skippings said police received word of the fire sometime around 1:40 a.m. on Saturday.
“Fire services responded with six engines and met the entire structure engulfed in flames. The fire was brought under control and eventually extinguished,” Skippings said.
The vendors said the loss of the structure dealt a serious blow to their livelihood. “It's a disaster, a devastating blow to us,” said Sheniqua Johnson, who sold her Bahamian souvenir wares from a stall at the site for the past three years.
“I lost everything and now just the thought of having to start over is something I just can't comprehend right now. I had a lot of stuff in there and it was all lost in the fire. This is a great damage to a lot of people, so we are going to need some assistance because this is our livelihood,” Johnson said.
She estimated her losses to be between $3,000 and $5,000 in goods, including T-shirts, jewelry, towels, caps, and straw bags - all Bahamian souvenirs. Johnson, a mother of four said she her next step is to hopefully buy other wares and set up shop in the parking lot, next to the burnt down building.
“The only thing I can do is try and get some stuff back and seeif I could set up here in the parking lot. That is the only thing I could do right now,” Johnson said. She was at a lost as to how she would break the news to her children, knowing that even before the fire it was a struggle to meet the necessities of everyday living.
“I don't know where the next dollar is coming from,” said straw vendor Lisa Forbes. “Everything I had is just gone now. I don't know what I’m supposed to do and every day there are bills. Every time you turn around there is another bill so every day you have to beworking. You have a day maybe two days off out of the week, but I can't stay home the whole week. I have children,” said the straw vendor of thirty years. “I need some immediate help,” Forbes said, who estimated that she lost between $10,000 and $12,000 worth of goods.
read more at The Nassau Guardian
News date : 05/31/2010