MV Gem Star helped put out Union Island fire

By Demion McTair. Updated 3:36 p.m., Thursday, May 21, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Just over a year ago, in April 2019, an MV Gem Star vessel was destroyed by fire.

A year later, a new version of the marine vessel – MV Gem Star II, helped save lives and commercial properties at the Clifton, Union Island waterfront from a major blaze on May 19, 2020.

One News SVG contacted the MV Gem Star II on Wednesday (May 20), and spoke with a senior official of the company who asked to be named as such in this story.

The senior official said that the MV Gem Star II was docked at the Union Island harbor at the time of the fire.

A shot of the fire from land.

He said that as the fire started to gain more strength, “we decided to make an additional assistance because the fire brigade had just gotten there. However, they couldn’t go into the heart of the fire, so we stayed from a distance and tried to see what we can do”.

He said the crew on Gem Star II sprung into action using the ship’s firefighting resources.

“We started our fire pump, got out our fire hoses and we have approximately 160 feet of fire hoses on board” – the senior official who was on the scene of the incident said.

He said “the Coast Guard boat came and took it (the hose) across. So, we actually passed the hose from the ship across the small area in the sea, then on to Lambi’s Hotel and we loaned them a ladder, then we gave one of our men some fire suits and they went up on the top of the building”.

He said, this way, there was more advantage over the fire.

“We had a lot of water force and then the fire started smothering” – the senior Gem Star II official told One News SVG.

He said Gem Star assisted for approximately three (3) and a half hours to put out the fire.

“What was good about it is that the wind was not blowing. If the wind was blowing, lets say northerly, we would have been in trouble, it would have wiped away that whole area”, the official said, referring to the commercial properties at Clifton main street.

He said that with the Fire Brigade working one side and Gem Star II crew on the roof of Lambi’s building, that there was more advantage over the fire.

“It was a massive fire and we are lucky through God’s grace and our knowledge. Everybody commended us because our pump was carrying a very strong force” – the senior official told One News SVG.

The official also spoke briefly about the destruction by fire of Gem Star in April 2019.

He said he left the country at the time and about a day later he received a phone call saying that there was a fire on the vessel. He said the fire was not properly monitored and the vessel was lost.

The company has since moved on from the loss and recently launched Gem Star II, a vessel which has helped to save lives and properties from a fire.


A completely ravaged property that formerly housed the Freddy’s Gas Station. Photo: Abdon Whyte.

Three people are hospitalized with varying degree burns as a result of the fire which took place on May 19 at around 6:40 p.m.

Police say “according to investigations, about 6:40 p.m. on 19.05.2020 the Union Island Fire Station was alerted about an explosion at Freddy’s Gas Station located at Clifton, Union Island. The gas station was reportedly engulfed in flames which rapidly spread to a number of nearby buildings which caused the St. Vincent Electricity Company Limited (Vinlec) to cut power to the area”.

“Three (3) persons reportedly sustained injuries from the incident and were subsequently rushed to mainland, St. Vincent, to seek medical attention at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard Service (SVGCG). Lindini Neverson, l2 years old Student of Union Island sustained second degree burns about his body; Freddy North, 72 years old the owner of Freddy’s Gas Station sustained first degree burns about his body; and Shaniqua “Azaria” Alexander, 17 years old Student of Union Island sustained both second and third degree burns about her body” – the Police report further stated.

The incident was viewed LIVE by hundreds of people on social media due to coverage by Radio Grenadines.

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