KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves is among workers at the Financial Complex who have been affected by a fire there on Saturday.
Gonsalves said Sunday night that his office, on the fifth floor, was affected by smoke and he would be working from home over the next few days.
“So we will have a couple of days this week. I myself have to go into the building, because I understand there is a lot of smoke still, even as far up as the Prime Minister’s Office … But I have a lot of papers there, which I have to go and get for Parliament and also to work on at home,” he said.
Gonsalves said that the fire was contained to a section of the third floor where data from this year’s census were being processed.
“And everything practically in that area was destroyed. It looks as if we have to do over the census,” he said of the exercise that cost the state EC$1.5 million.
Gonsalves further said that while water is “all over the building”, the Treasury Department, which is located on the first floor, “should be able to do its work, so that persons who have to be paid can still be paid”.
“So a lot of work has to be cleaned out tomorrow (Monday) after the insurance investigators come in and we will know the cause of the fire,” he said.
“… hopefully, with the help of all the cleaners and the electricians and everybody else, the rest of the building, we shall be able to use it within a few days time. So, I want everybody to cooperate,” he said.
“… we take the world as we find it and we address all the issues. I want to thank the police, the firemen and everyone who has been involved in this matter,” Gonsalves said.
Fire fighters were summoned to the building sometime after 4 p.m. Saturday to put out the blaze that sent black smoke billowing into the afternoon sky.
The Cabinet Room and the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Trade are also located in the 20-year-old building where workers last year used standing fans as discussed the work to be done on the air-conditioning system, which was “at a stage where it must be replaced”.