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Loss on Fire

May 29, 2010

Dartmouth Fire Video (Thai Resaurant)

Source: BBC Devon 

Loss for the Owners, loss from the town, loss of cultural heritage. Millions of pounds loss. All at loss.

1pm my phone started ringing non-stop. My friends from the Thai restaurant calling me all at the same time. I ignored it for I’m still at work and I thought I can just give them a ring after my shift. Exactly 2pm, I answered a phone call. The head chef saying about fish and chips shop and everybody is there except Lamee the second chef. I barely understood what he said (he doesn’t speak much english). He asked me to phone her and tell her to find the owner and if I can come downtown to meet them. (I thought I’m being invited for lunch which they usually do) So I did call Lamee. No answer. Another call… no answer.

I started walking home, I must have a shower and get dressed before i go downtown. As I walk, 3 fire engines were rushing downtown. I did not bother, they do send loads of fire engines even if its just a small fire. We never really have fires.

I reached home, I’ve done my plan, I’m ready to have lunch with my friends. I called Lamee again… no answer. Anoter call… still no answer. Just after I’ve cancell my phonecall to Lamee, my phone rang again, this time the brother of the owner. He said there’s a fire which started from the fish and chips shop.

“What?! “Again please, I did not understant” I said. “Please call Lamee I can’t see her and we don’t have her number.”  I felt sick instantly, I know Lamee likes to stay in her room and sleep sometimes before work. I panicked thinking that she might be trapped in the fire. I said  that there’ no answer but I’m going to call her again.

I again tried to call her. Again no answer. I decided to call the owner, no answer as well. I paused for I think a good ten minutes to gather myself, I called the head chef, I asked who’s with him. He said it’s ok everybody is there already everybody is safe. He passed the phone to the brother of the owner “Everything is gone!” he said. Stupidly I answered “why?” “fire” he said. He passed the phone to his sister, the owner. “It’s all gone…” she said. She wasn’t crying but her voice was coarse. “Are you ok?” I asked, “Yes we’re all ok, I will see you later…” she then dropped the call.

I saw them at half past four, near the pontoon, they are ready to go to Sommerset (where the owner’s house is). Nothing is said, everybody is eyeing each other. We all know how we feel. The owner hugged me upon seeing me “We’ll come back tomorrow and see what’s left, if there’s anything…” The only thing I can say is take care… I cannot utter anymore words. Her brother and the head chef went with her. The 2nd chef decided she’s staying with another thai lady (married to and englishman), another staff from the restaurant she will then be picked up by her boyfriend the next day. So we, the three ladies stood there, no single word uttered. I haven’t seen the damage so I asked them if we can look at it.

We can’t go near the incident ofcourse, police tapes are all over the place. The only left from the restaurant is the front wall, everything is burnt inside.

The building, the Thai restaurant itself is 700 years old. The whole block is consisted of these kind of houses. Millions ofpounds worth of propeties destroyed. Nine stablishements and 22 homes are burnt including the restaurant (1st and 2nd floor, restaurant; 3rd floor, flat of the staff, 4th floor owner’s flat). All people who lived in those homes survived, but all of them only have what they’re wearing. Nothing more.

I stayed with Lamee, sitting on the pavement for hours watching the firemen hose the walls of the Thai restaurant. So many people watching, I hear them say, poor this and that… and I thought, yes… I might say those things and feel sorry if I am just one of the bystanders, but no, it is an unexplanable horrible emotion i felt, knowing that these are my close friends. Not only that, the whole of dartmouth  economy will be affected, we had one of the most horrible winter and now is supposedly the chance for the traders and business men to recover, but all is at loss. Our place is a tourists destination they come to see these places, but because of the incident, our cultural heritage is lessened.

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