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News day / Residents in and people in and around Woodbrook and Ariapita Avenue stood in disbelief that the establishment which stood at the corner of French and Ariapita Avenue for more than 30 years was gutted by fire.

The Nu Pub (Mas Camp Pub), Ma Pau and Sweetlime Restuarant were all housed in the building owned by Ward Hotel Ltd. Although no lives were lost, the loss of the iconic and some might say legendary space left a damper for many in the area.

Part owner and family member, Roderick Ward, could not contain his tears as he looked on at the burning building.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Marlon Smith, responsible for the Northern Division, said they received a call just before noon. He said personnel responded and found Ma Pau and the adjoining buildings (De Nu Pub and Sweet Lime) were alight.

Although there was an issue of low water pressure, WASA supplied extra water for the firemen. When Newsday visited the scene, the fire was intensely burning at the door of De Nu Pub (Mas Camp Pub).

Fire officers were seen in full gear and with gas masks on, as there was thick heavy smoke, in the air fighting to put out the blaze. Fire officials from San Juan and Belmont assisted those from the Northern Division in outing the blaze. One elderly woman from Dee’s Nursing Home on nearby Cornelio Street had to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation and the nursing home evacuated.

Part owner of the property, Mc- Donald Ward said he received a call after noon saying that Mas Camp was on fire.

Ward said he had no idea what started the fire. Ward said the Mas Camp does not open until 4 pm on Sunday and could not understand statements which said the fire had started in the kitchen. “No one is in the kitchen on a Sunday,” he said. He could not state exactly which kitchen started it. De Nu Pub he said closed at 4 am on Sunday morning with the intention of reopening at 4 pm.

“We are not going to write this off as a loss as yet we are waiting to see what is happening,” he said. Ward added that after an assessment was done the company would be looking to rebuild the long-standing establishment. “The businesses would build back,” he said.

Ma Pau employees who assisted with evacuating the elderly from Dee’s Nursing Home told media they got the smell of smoke in the building at around noon. They also saw smoke coming from the light in the building.

The employees then said there was a panic and personnel from the nearby nursing home were calling for help. The employees said they then went to the aid of the nurses and elderly, helping to move them to an adjacent building. One employee of Ma Pau also had to be taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

One of Ma Pau’s directors, Sherry Persad, said its more than one hundred employees at its Ariapita Avenue branch would be relocated elsewhere for the time being and assured that no one’s job would be lost.

Persad said it was devastating to see what had happened. She added that the company when it received the report as to exactly what had happened, would issue a statement to the media as to the casino’s operations at that location.

Port of Spain’s deputy mayor Hillan Morean said: “From all observations, the fire services seems to have responded quickly. I am advised that Woodbrook is here as well as headquarters at Wrightson Road. I also see T&TEC Emergency is here is a case of any electrical issues and ambulance in case of any other needs.” “It is sad to see a monumental structure such as Mas Camp go down like this, though. I know that Ma Pau, as well as Sweet Lime, seem to have suffered heavy losses.

This is sad for the city in particular as these are landmark sites for the city. We are hoping that they can bounce back quickly,” he said.

Residents stood on the pavement nearby looking on at the raging blaze. A husband and wife who wished not to be identified but who lived nearby said they live on the top of Woodbrook and heard the sirens of ambulances and fire trucks which made them come out. They said when they came out they saw Mas Camp ablaze. The duo starred on in what looked like disbelief and shock as the firemen worked in the background to out the fire. The wife said: “This is a landmark. My son worked there as a DJ. It is hurtful. It really hits home. It is sad.” Another resident said she went to the grocery about 45 minutes before the fire and was in shock when she returned and heard the news..

“We heard the ambulance and then my brother said: “It looking like Mas Camp on fire.” As we came we just saw all the smoke.” She said it was odd that the building was ablaze just like that.

Roderick Ward said he received a call from Pelham Goddard at around noon telling him that the building was on fire. When he came he saw the building burning.

The family, he said, was awaiting word on what exactly happened, although they had heard the fire began in the Mas Camp kitchen.

He said Sweet Lime’s kitchen was operating.

“It is a loss for culture and plenty things. It has been around for 30 years. This was going to be our 31st anniversary and no Government has ever recognised us for culture,” he said.

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