– Two houses destroyed, three homeless
By Mondale Smith
A remigrant perished Sunday night when fire destroyed his 31 Second Street, Success Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara home. Dead is 57-year-old Sundar Singh, called ‘Mootie’, who lived alone.
His next door neighbours at 34 Second Street also lost their home.
They managed to escape the blaze but did not save anything.
From all accounts the fire started about 22:30hrs, Sunday, in the upper flat of Sundar Singh’s three-bedroom house, which he bought last year for in excess of $20M. He had returned the previous year.
Singh’s charred remains were removed from his garage close to his burnt out 4×4 vehicle about 02:00hrs yesterday.
He had escaped from the house. His neighbours believed that he perished trying to remove the 4×4 from the yard.
Pandit Bissoondyal Maraj, 43; his wife Babita, 39, and their 13-year-old daughter Devika were aroused by the flames next door.
They fled the house with nothing, then watched it burn as the fire spread from next door.
As fire fighters battled the blaze in the wee hours of yesterday morning, Babita Maraj sat in a hammock a few buildings away fighting back tears and wishing to wake up from the nightmare of her home being destroyed.
“We did not save anything. The heat and smoke was too much,” the distraught woman said.
Recalling events, she said her family went out and returned about 20:30 hrs. She said she heard loud music and people chatting.
“We had dinner and went to bed, then I hear a loud explosion and thought it was the cows break something so I run to the back and when I peeped out I see smoke in the yard.”
Her husband Pandit Maraj was also up trying to make sense of the loud sound and realised that the building was becoming unusually hot.
“I went to my daughter’s room and I see thick smoke so I wake she up and tell she fire… get out the building on fire.”
Babita Maraj opined that her family survived because they ran out of the house immediately, leaving all their earthly possessions behind. They also managed to drive a small truck out of the yard and broke a neighbour’s fence to save their cows, but everything else was burnt to cinder.
The fire also partly scorched another building at 59 Second Street, Success.
Yesterday, shortly after midnight as the fire was being brought under control, hundreds gathered from nearby villages, and the scene was one of worry as residents tried to ascertain the now dead Sundar Singh’s whereabouts.
Calls to his cellular phone went unanswered and as fire fighters fought to extinguish what was left of the fire, some residents ventured into the building looking for the man but their search was fruitless.
This brought about momentary relief as many believed that he was safe – probably at another location.
However, at about 02:00hrs when some residents ventured into his garage to have a closer look at the destruction of his 4×4 vehicle they stumbled upon the man’s charred remains and raised an alarm.
Screams of disbelief saturated the air. The remains were removed minutes later.
The third of seven children for his octogenarian father Johnny Singh, ‘Mootie’ was described as friendly and kind-hearted and residents expressed distress at his death. His father who lives at the Mahaica Creek was summoned to the scene and arrived before daybreak, yesterday.
“Meh get a call saying that ‘Mootie’ house on fire and when meh come meh hear he dead.”
The call came from Shantie Singh, Mootie’s US-based wife. She had got a call from neighbours. “When he come back about two years ago he bring two container with expensive things and they all burn up,” said the 88-year-old-man.
Amidst speculations that the man may have been killed and his house set on fire, his relatives are calling for a meticulous investigation. One relative was heard saying that “they got some envious people around and he had a lot of cash at home.”
When Kaieteur News returned to the scene later yesterday morning, Kampta Rupchan, his neighbour at lot 26 said his family heard a crash at about 22:30 hrs on Sunday and thought that it was someone fighting.
When he and his wife looked outside they saw Mootie’s house engulfed in flames. “We run outside and start calling for ‘Mootie’ and he nuh answer then we look for he 4×4 and it was not parked on the road so we thought he was out because he don’t park in the yard normally,” Rupchan said.
Another neighbour said that Mootie had invited some friends to his home for a drink a few hours earlier. The men left about 22:00 hours. The fire started soon after.
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