– Family members forced to jump from burning home
A taxi-driver and his family are struggling to cope with a double tragedy that struck them in the wee hours yesterday at Diamond, East Bank Demerara.
Not only are Chitendra ‘Veeru’ Singh, his two children and wife now without a home, but they have to also deal with the tragic loss of an uncle who was burnt to death in the early morning fire.
Dead is 59-year-old Thakoor Singh of 795 New Diamond Housing Scheme.
The blaze saw fire fighters arrive almost an hour and a half after being summoned (from the West Ruimveldt station in the city) as the nearby Diamond crew were out busy fighting another deadly blaze in the neighbouring community of Kaneville.
Chitendra Singh told a harrowing tale of leaving his wife and daughter upstairs to fight what he initially thought was a small blaze downstairs. The wife and daughter, both trapped by the flames, were forced to jump from a back balcony to their safety as the flames grew.
Yesterday, a dejected Singh was seated at an unfinished building opposite what remained of his home, surveying the site of the tragedy. He was surrounded by a number relatives and friends.
The taxi driver disclosed that his family lost everything, except his car. A minibus parked in the yard and belonging to someone else was burnt.
Singh managed to escape with just a pair of trunks and was given clothes by friends.
According to the taxi driver, the fire is believed to have started around 02:00hrs.
He was with his wife in one of the bedrooms. His daughter, Amesha, and son Sachin, were sleeping in other rooms.
The man said he was alerted to noises and thinking it was bandits, came out of his bedroom but was greeted instead by thick smoke.
According to Singh, residing downstairs was his uncle who was physically challenged and probably had been drinking before the blaze erupted.
The man believes that his uncle probably left his kero stove on and fell asleep.
The father and his teenage son were both met with intense flames coming from the downstairs garage area which had been converted to living quarters for his uncle.
Upstairs, the mother and her daughter had to run to the back balcony where they were forced to jump from flames that had enveloped the bedrooms.
“The verandah had no steps. They had a black tank and I climbed onto it and tell them jump. I hold them as they jump. I built the house with a lot of greenheart and other wood, and fire ketch plenty and fast.”
Singh’s key to his Toyota Ist car was left in the burning home. Fortunately, one of the back doors of the car was open and neighbours and others struggled to push the vehicle from the yard.
However, they could not save the minibus.
According to Singh, he could not make contact with his uncle and he did not immediately hear any screams for help.
“He live all his life with my parents and I took him and keep him with me when I build this place,” the taxi driver disclosed.
Investigators found the uncle’s remains near a door. He apparently had attempted to escape, but was overcome by the flames and smoke.
Singh said that he has lived at the location for 12 years and had built the home, “little by little”, having moved from Essequibo. Initially, the home was insured as it was mortgaged to the bank.
Singh yesterday reflected that he had no insurance as he has paid off the mortgage.
“My son is set to write exams in a next couple months. He lose all he SBAs…all he assignments.”
Yesterday, several students and teachers were seen comforting the taxi driver. His wife and daughter were out at the police station.
The man vowed that with the help of his relatives and friends, he will rebuild.
“We only escape with the clothes we got on. The neighbours try to help too, but the fire was too much.”
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