Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle said yesterday that an illegal connection caused the Christmas Eve fire that destroyed two buildings at Bagotstown, East Bank Demerara.
The official told Kaieteur News that investigators sifting through the debris at the fire scene found a device, known as an alligator clip, which electricity thieves connect to the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) grid to get power to their homes.
“They were using an alligator clip to distribute electricity to the apartments. Sometime during the night they clipped it on and there was a short-circuit.”
It is believed that the additional use of Christmas lights caused the catastrophe.
“The additional load on the system caused it to fail and it failed in a very dramatic way,” Gentle said.
According to the Fire Chief, some of the occupants admitted that persons were acquiring electricity illegally.
“They talked. Some of them were innocently affected (and) we found evidence of the clip in some of the debris. Illegal electricity has its price…we found the same thing at the last Globe Yard fire. “
However, one former resident suggested that a sparking wire on a nearby utility pole caused the
The Fire Chief also disclosed that the heavy Christmas Eve traffic prevented firefighters from reaching the scene more quickly. He said that a fire truck from the West Ruimveldt Station arrived at the scene 18 minutes after receiving the report. Another fire tender from the Stabroek Station took 23 minutes to reach the scene.
He also pointed out that the two wooden buildings were extremely old and that his ranks were hampered by a lack of water.
The fire broke out shortly after 21:00 hrs on Christmas Eve, destroying the two houses which were located at the entrance of Norton Street, Bagotstown.
Tessa Benjamin and her sister, Nicola Simon, were among the victims who lost everything in the blaze.
The blaze started in the one-storey, four-bedroom house which Ms. Simon and others had resided. By the time firefighters arrived, that house was engulfed in flames and the blaze had spread to the two-storey house in which her sister was living.
An inconsolable Tessa Benjamin told Kaieteur News that she was in a salon when she received a phone call that her house was on fire.
She collapsed at the scene, while lamenting that she had lost everything.
Her mother, Esme Simon, who sells a short distance away in Norton Street, said that she was vending when she observed smoke coming from the house in which her daughter, Nicola, and three others lived.
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