Arson is suspected following a fire along Wilson Road, Scarborough, Tobago.
The half-a-million-dollar fire occurred shortly after midnight yesterday, placing a damper on Easter festivities in Tobago.
Scarborough Fire Prevention Officers said the fire occurred shortly after midnight, along Wilson Road, Scarborough, opposite Spence Plaza. Nine wooden buildings were affected.
Store owners were picking up the pieces yesterday, moving around the ruins to determine what could be salvaged.
Assistant manager of So Special Clothing Store, Lorris Phillips, said a customer alerted him to the fire.
"While he walk through the door here after his purchase, he came back and say you know a building out there on fire," Phillips said.
Phillips said he ran out to investigate where the blaze started, and observed a surge of flames from a store located to the back of the building.
"So I saw the fire to the back of the building. So I climb up on the fencing peeping over to see where the fire really coming from. Then I realise the centre booth down in this lane was on fire," Phillips said.
It became a race against the clock, to try to remove items from the store.
Phillips said store owners assisted one another in grabbing and tossing items in waiting cars to save their goods.
"So we park up the car there and we start to carry out the things. After that the other guy that was assisting us here, he parked his car, so we tried to get most of the items out from the store," he said.
Officers contained the blaze preventing neighbouring businesses from being touched.
Store owners say fire officers acted promptly in containing the blaze as more booths could have been damaged.
"My next step is to do something to have a flea market. And to see what I could make, at the point in time. But we have to wait to know what the higher authorities say," Cleve Cupid of So Special Clothing Store said.
Fire officials removed material on the scene to undergo forensic testing, as arson was suspected.
A comprehensive investigation is to be conducted on the matter.