Papindo shopping mall and the Bismillah wholesale went up in flames, losing both supermarket and department store goods worth hundreds and thousands of kina.
According to Bismillah security guard, Steven Nori, who was on night duty, the fire started at midnight from Bismillah’s recently built workshop.
Nori said he noticed smoke from inside the workshop and alerted 5 of his other colleagues who were also on duty at the other Bismillah’s chain of shops within the same premises.
“Me lukim taim emi go 12 o’clock, mi lukluk go em mi lukim simuk I kam antap na mi tokim narapla security, haus paia” he recounted what happened.
The securities went on to wake the Bangladeshis, who reside at the top floor of the Bismillah shops.
Nori said with the aid of the wind, the fire quickly spread to Papindo Supermarket and Department shops, engulfing everything in its path.
He added that within a minute or two, there were hundreds of opportunists ready to loot.
“Long gate tupla security stap tasol ol man kam, wantaim force ol pushim gate go inap gate pundaun. First ol go insait long Papindo,” he continued to explain how the events unfolded.
He said Police and Fire Service turned up at around 1am, an hour after the fire started.
By then, the looters took advantage of the situation with 2 guards sustaining minor injuries while trying to stop them.
Mr Nori said they could hear flammables exploding with their main concern to contain the fire before it spread to the newly built service station.
He went on and said luckily, the firemen were able to stop the fire from spreading to the new Bismillah service station.
The Fire service is currently conducting investigations into the cause of the fire.