May 04, 2021
STEPHEN Swaby stood gazing at the charred rubble that was once his 96-year-old grandmother’s home at Jennie Street, in disbelief that his family has lost everything.
Mr Swaby, like several other homeowners, were back in the area yesterday trying to salvage whatever remained of their belongings after a violent fire on Sunday destroyed six homes and damaged four others.
Many of them expressed a belief that their homes could have been saved and voiced frustration that issues with water compounded the fire.
What is left now resembles a war zone.
In Mr Swaby’s case, all that is left of his family’s home are the grey walls and front gates. The home once housed his grandmother, uncle and aunt. Mr Swaby kept all of his belongings there as well.
“Everything I have is burnt to the ground along with the rest of my grandmother’s stuff. Everything is gone,” Mr Swaby said yesterday.
On Sunday, the 56-year-old had been frantically searching for his grandmother, but was able to breathe a sigh of relief after learning that she was alive and had been taken to the hospital where she is now being treated for smoke inhalation.
“She was sitting over there when the fire start because the fire wasn’t so big. When they see the fire got so, they took her in the back. She’s in the hospital right now,” he explained.
“Last time we got in contact with her this morning they said they have to admit her to keep her in there to get some more smoke out of her.”
He admitted he was frustrated with how the emergency services tackled the blaze.
He said: “I think (the) person who’s in charge when they bring the fire engine they should’ve bring enough water because my understanding the truck came without no water but then someone said the truck came but only with little bit of water.”
“I know there was a problem with the truck and the water. I don’t know what’s the problem because when I came all these houses were not burning as yet - only partially. I watched these house burn.”
Robyn Rolle also believed her home could have been saved.
Ms Rolle said: “When I came here at two o’clock, I met two fire engines leaving and I was told that they came and they wasn’t accessible to water and then we pulled up that’s when the third fire truck came, and they were looking for a fire hydrant, but we have one that’s exactly across the road from our house. With them doing no checks for that, it’s been empty apparently for years. So, when they did get it open, just dust and rust came out of it.
“So, somebody I feel should be held accountable because our house could’ve been saved. I’m not saying it’s political… What sense it makes having an empty fire hydrant? It makes no sense or sending fire trucks that can’t accessible to water.”
photoThe scene of the blaze on Sunday afternoon. Photo: Jeffrey Butler
Ms Rolle was still able to recover some clothes from her family’s home that housed nine persons before it was “completely finished” by the flames.
She had called that place home for about 26 years.
“Our kids were only left with the clothes that was on their backs. They don’t have any shoes anything, so our next step is to do what we have to do to make sure that are kids and everybody have a roof over their head.”
Since young children were home, she admitted they were “very worried” and have given the children two days to catch themselves.
“It probably mess with them mentally because like I said they were very shaken up because they were here when the fire started but they still going to school. They’re going to bounce back.”
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