Hot fabric frightens locals

2015-09-29 06:00
Yusuf “Joe HiLite” Mohamed inspects the smouldering remains of his textile warehouse, where all the stock was housed.


PHOTO: 
earl haupt

Yusuf “Joe HiLite” Mohamed inspects the smouldering remains of his textile warehouse, where all the stock was housed. PHOTO: earl haupt

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Belgravia residents were rudely awakened by the stench of smouldering fire which gutted the HiLite job lot centre off Johnston Road on Friday.

The warehouse, which is situated next to the main HiLite factory shop, was reported to be on fire on Friday morning at 04:00.

The factory store was not affected and is still operating.

“The City’s fire and rescue service received the call from a landline caller notifying the department of the fire,” confirms spokesperson Theo Layne.

“The first two fire engines were on scene at 04:13. The fire was extinguished using three water streams from the two fire engines and a hydraulic platform.”

It took almost three hours for them to bring the blaze under control.

Layne explains that the firefighters used self-contained breathing sets when they entered the building to fight the fire inside as well.

“The fire was brought under control at 07:08 and the last vehicle left the scene at 10:44, following mop-up operations,” adds Layne.

Unknown causeThe cause of the fire has not yet been determined, leaving HiLite’s owner, Yusuf “Joe HiLite” Mohamed (75) in a state of shock.

Mohamed, who was still asleep, was alerted to the incident after his son received a phone call from a security guard at the premises.

“We did not know to what extent the fire was until we came to the scene. There were two fire brigades and they then got reinforcements afterwards; another four of them (brigades) came.

“The fire was very, very fierce and there was a little bit of a wind. To contain it (the fire) was quite a mission.”

Mohamed says the warehouse was damaged completely, along with all the stock it housed.

“It means that it is a setback for the company in the sense that it was a service to many, many people who are living out of that shop, because it was a shop they (the surrounding community) live out of, to buy products to resell.

“The hawkers, the traders and all those who are clothing and textile workers – they are the people who will be at a loss, but of course they will now come to the main store. It will have a knock-on effect, because all our stock was there, all the haberdashery, all the fabrics . . . everything was damaged.”

Affectionately known by many as “the man in the hat”, Mohamed explains that the warehouse could be up and running again in 30 days, if all further processes to get the property back in working order go without incident.

“I hope that we could be back before Christmas.”

After the fire a visibly subdued Mohamed lamented the fact that nothing could be salvaged from the blaze. But he remained circumspect about the entire ordeal.

“Whatever is left is shop-soiled, wet. There is nothing that can be salvaged. When I look inside over there, it is a sorry sight.”

“It was a shock first of all, but I overcame that shock and my first reaction was ‘everything is in God’s hands, we must be satisfied’. You’ve got it today, tomorrow you don’t have it.”


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