A midday fire believed to have been started by two children playing with matches completely destroyed the top flat of a twostoreyed North East La Penitence building while extensively damaging the bottom flat.
The four families occupying the building lost millions of dollars in property and are now left to battle with the elements.
The property is owned by the Critchlow family, Mavis and Shelly, and is occupied by more than six extended families. One of the residents, Sharon Isaacs, who is a seamstress and who operated out of the now burnt building, said that she was working downstairs when she smelt smoke.
She instinctively got up and was greeted by thick smoke billowing from one of the bedrooms. She said that the room is occupied by a man, his wife and their three children whose ages ranged from four to 10. The woman further explained that the children were caught playing with matches on several occasions and she had pleaded with the man to give them a stern warning.
Apparently, the man did not heed her advice and the latest mischief by the children ended in disaster.
“This is not the first time this thing happened,” she said between tears, “On several occasions dem children nearly bun down de place and we warning they father to talk to dem,” the distraught woman reported. “When you talk, de mother vex wid you.”
She said that she saw the children’s father shortly after the fire started. “He jus ups heself and lef de place without even bothering to see de damage he children do,” she said.
While public spirited residents joined forces and evacuated some of the moveable property from the house, the woman said that she has lost most of her possessions, including several dresses that belonged to her clients. The fire also destroyed material belonging to several other clients. Whatever was spared from the flames was completely ruined by the water from the firemen’s hoses.
Linden Rawlins, who lives next door, related that he heard the shouts of fire and immediately summoned the fire service. He said that the fire service responded promptly and were on the scene in about twenty minutes.
Rawlins said that while this was commendable, he was not totally satisfied with the way the fire officials went about their duty. He said that they took too much time readying themselves for the task.
This view was, however, debunked by the officer in charge of operations, Compton Sparman. He commended his officers for the professional way they went about their duties. The team of firefighters worked diligently and managed to restrict the fire to just one house.
Sparman said that he received a call at around 12:30hrs and immediately dispatched three fire tenders to the scene. Two of the fire tenders were from the Central Fire Station while the third was dispatched from the West Ruimveldt Fire Station.
He said that the tenders were equipped with over 2800 gallons of water. He said that there was also a further support system from the North East La Penitence canal. He further explained that the team of firefighters was not required to utilize the water from the canal since the 2800 gallons proved to be sufficient.
Sparman said that while a thorough investigation would be conducted to ascertain the cause of the fire, initial investigations suggest that the conflagration was started by children playing with matches.
One of the owners of the property, Shelly, arrived on the scene about thirty minutes after the fire started.
Upon seeing the destruction of her property, the woman fainted and had to be assisted by public spirited citizens.
City Counselor, Florence Bourne, a resident of the area, was also at the scene and offered comforting words to the family.
Despite this kind gesture from Bourne and other residents, the family is pondering on their next move as they have nowhere to go for the night.
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