Fire victims say Fire Service’s poor response caused two houses to be destroyed
Victims of Monday night’s fire at Charlotte Street, Georgetown fire say their houses could have been saved or there could have been less damage if it were not for the poor response of the Fire Service, but the authorities have rejected that claim. Eight persons, including an autistic woman, a five-year-old and a 91-year-old woman who lived in the two houses which were destroyed are now homeless.
When contacted, Fire Chief Marlon Gentle disputed claims that the Fire Service took an hour to respond to the fire.
“I don’t know where they got that from because I don’t know what you would call a poor response.
“You see how close those buildings are? You think those buildings could have withstand an hour of no action? That is my response to that,” the Fire Chief stated.
The fire started at about 21:00h and originated from the kitchen area of the house belonging to June Henry and her two daughters.
Andel Mckenzie, who lived in the other house which subsequently caught fire, told the News Room that he was standing on the street when he saw a flare coming from the Henry’s house. Mckenzie said he alerted the neighbours and called the Fire Service.
“After that persons started to gather on the street, we called the Fire Service which took approximately like an hour to reach,” Mckenzie explained.
Within minutes the fire completely engulfed Henry’s house and quickly started to spread to the other house. Mckenzie, along with his 91-year-old great-grandmother Jocelyn Agard, his uncle Mark Agard, and his five-year-old son and fiancé lived in the house.
Mckenzie expressed his dissatisfaction with the Fire Service which he claims failed to establish proper protocols to contain the blaze. The News Room understands that Fire Service arrived without water and this caused the fire to further spread and scorched the side of a third neighbour’s house and damaged the windows.
“In the space of the hour after seeing that the fire would have caught the house I was living in, I entered the [third] neighbour’s house and attempted to use a fire extinguisher to keep the flame from catching on the blind, the louvers and the side wall,” Mckenzie recounted.
When the News Room visited the area on Tuesday, Mckenzie and other relatives were trying to salvage whatever they could from the house. The upper flat of the house was completely destroyed. The family plans to approach the government for assistance during this time. Mckenzie explained that he is now living out of his car.
“…I don’t have any clothes, anywhere to live and basically that’s it.”
Meanwhile, another neighbour, George Benjamin, told the News Room that he was asleep with his wife when their granddaughter woke them up about the fire. Benjamin said the heat from the fire caused them to vacate their home and they sat outside for hours. He also believes that if it had been windy his house and others houses would have also been damaged.
“The intensity of the fire…imagine a green mango tree burn if it was windy this house would have gone. But thank God no life was lost, no limb broken…its only material things,” Benjamin said.
Investigations to determine the cause of the fire are still ongoing.