Several homeless after unattended candle destroys apartment building


A total of 12 persons are now homeless after an unattended candle resulted in a fire and destroyed their apartment building at Cross Street in Georgetown.

The two-storey wooden building and everything inside were destroyed. The fire started just before 21:00hrs on Thursday.

One of the victims, 62-year-old Gary Westmaas explained to the News Room that the fire started in the western side of the building. He alleged that one of the tenants fell asleep and left a candle lit. It did not take long for the fire to rip through the building.

“It engulfed within 10 minutes, it was an old structure but what she had in there – my landlady house – she had everything, millions of dollars she lost,” Westmaas said.

Gary Westmaas

The landlady, Joan Bowman, lived on the upper floor of the building with several of her family members.

The bottom floor, which consisted of two apartments, was occupied by a total of eight persons.

Westmaas has been renting from Bowman for the past 11 years. He said he has nowhere to go and while some of his belongings were saved from the fire, they are now soaked from water.

Westmaas also expressed his disappointment with the response by the fire service.

“I am a bit upset because they came and they could have saved most of the house if the water did not run out and the other fire tender took about 15 -20 minutes to get here.”

The building on fire (Photo: Jean Chu)

Meanwhile, the Guyana Fire Service is encouraging citizens to exercise caution when using lamps, candles, mosquito coils, lighters and matches.

The fire service also noted that smoke detectors are vital in preventing fires by alerting persons of heavy smoke buildup within a building.

Citizens should also equip their homes with these devices to protect themselves and others against fires.

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