The 129 year old Railway Station in Balaclava was gutted by fire Wednesday morning. Fire service personnel and police were alerted to the fire, but their arrival was too late to save the iconic structure that was once a buzzing transportation facility.
While the cause of the fire is unknown, residents and maroons of Balaclava summarize that the blaze was the work of arsonist intent on destroying the livelihood of Desmond Salmon who operated a furniture store for 15 years at the location. Salmon is also of the belief the fire was deliberate. “We have lost all our lifelong savings, which were tied up in our business, and the shop was equipped with various power tools, expensive furniture, expensive lumber, and other materials,” said Salmon. Estimating the damage to be $30 million, Salmon further lamented that several pieces of commercial tools valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, and cabinet sets valued at over half million dollars each were all gone.
The railway station and railroad fell into disrepair and the railway authority has not seen it fit to bring back what was once a vital mode of transportation for resident and farmers in surrounding communities. The parish of Saint Elizabeth, the Cockpit Country and the western belt of the island benefited tremendously from the railway system.