Reports by ELIZABETH VUVU
THE Papindo Group of Companies shopping centre in West New Britain was totally gutted by fire in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The fire started between 6 and 7am which instantly attracted a crowd to gather around the vicinity of the supermarket with hopes of looting whatever they could get before the flames engulfed the building.
Provincial police commander, Supt Richard Mulou said police had problems trying to control the crowd and had to fire warning shots to keep the.
He said a security guard with the supermarket who was on his day off was one of those bystanders who tried to loot the shop but was beaten up by police.
Two other men were locked up at the Kimbe police station cells for also trying to cause trouble at the fire scene.
Supt Mulou said the cause of the fire was still not known at this stage and his officers were still investigating.
He said after he gets a report from his officers determining the cause of the fire, he would be requesting for a qualified fire investigator from Port Moresby to investigate the incident.
Supt Mulou said since the Papindo supermarket was located amongst other outlets like the Bank South Pacific Bank and News Agency in a block, they also had to be evacuated because of the potential of the fire to spread.
He said luckily the flames just touched the concrete of the Family Mart shop nearby and stopped there but the heat might have affected the shops nearby.
Supt Mulou raised concerns that WNB did not have a proper lands building board in place to make sure safety standards of buildings were complied with and appropriate authorities needed to look into this matter.
He said a lot of buildings in Kimbe did not comply with the safety building standards.
He said most shops did not have brick wall partition for fire safety.
Quite a number of shops had their septic tanks under their premises but they are required to be located outside.
He estimated the total value of goods lost in the fire to be between K3 to K4 million.
The Papindo chain of stores for the last couple of years has recorded fires nationwide.