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Fire Guts Commonwealth Funeral Home

Operators at Commonwealth Funeral Home said Wednesday that they suspect arsonists are behind an overnight fire that gutted the tiny building on Independence Drive and racked up an estimated $300,000 in damages.

When the Journal arrived on the scene yesterday afternoon, all that were left were two empty caskets and the shell of what used to be the popular funeral home.

Hours after the fire had long been extinguished, the debris, charred remains and stench of burned wood remained, a sore reminder for workers of the family owned business.

Michael Sweeting said his brother Matthew Sweeting was in charge of the funeral home’s day-to-day operations and is struggling to cope with the loss.

“At about two o’clock (Wednesday) morning my sister gave me a call and told me that the funeral home was on fire,” he said. “So I came down here and the Fire Department was already here extinguishing the blaze but the building was already totally engulfed in flames.”

Mr. Sweeting declined to give any suggestions as to what he thought may have started the fire and noted that does not want to speculate as to what happened.

However, other workers and family members said they suspect arson.

A woman who was interviewed anonymously said she is a supervisor at the funeral home and fiancé to the owner and reported that based on the damage she has seen, she believes the blaze was intentional.

“I do think it was intentional, but no one knows why,” she said. “It’s just today’s living people, evil people. That’s just it. We can’t say who did it, why but it was arson.”

Officials at the funeral home said they had one body in the building that they were preparing for a funeral this week, but luckily operators say they were able to remove it before any damage was done and the funeral is still scheduled for the weekend.

But the supervisor said that was all they could save.

“It’s about $300,000 in damages and expenses that we have lost completely,” she added. “There were caskets inside, embalming machines, embalming tables, computers and printers. It’s a total lost, as you can see everything is gone.”

For the Sweetings though they said their losses are only physical and added that the family run business will move on from the devastation, pick up the pieces and start again.

“We’ve been extensively damaged, that’s for sure,” Mr. Sweeting added. “But the up-side to it is that we have a funeral home in Eleuthera that is about 85 per cent complete and so perhaps we may be able to shift some of our operations there. But meanwhile we will cope, we will continue to serve our clientele and after the investigation is carried out we will continue from there.”

“We’re going to come back much better, much stronger,” the supervisor added. “It’s only a setback but he will come back much better much stronger.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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