Fire victims plead for help

Long before dawn on Tuesday morning, Garland Dennis thought the constant barking of dogs was alerting him to an intruder in his yard. But when he checked, what he saw frightened him — a section of the premises at 12 East Lane in central Kingston was ablaze, and the fire was quickly spreading.

Seven people, including Garland’s 10-year-old son, were left homeless when firefighters finally managed to put the blaze out.

According to Garland, he now has nothing to show for his years of hard work, as he lost all his belongings. Two tablets belonging to his son were also destroyed.

Garland estimates the value of his loss at more than $300,000.

The Kingston and St Andrew Fire Department confirmed that firefighters were notified about the blaze shortly after 2:30 am. They responded with two units, but were not able to prevent extensive damage to the house. Neighbouring properties also had minor damage.

“About 2:17 am mi hear some dog a bark. Mi go use the bathroom outside and when mi come back, mi realise seh di dog dem start bark harder. Mi tek time pull the verandah grille and fly mi ratchet knife and tek time screechy go ‘roun. Mi slide back a one fridge an’ a peep ‘roun the corner. When mi look, one elder brethren weh live ‘roun a di back house, a fi him house inna flames,” Dennis related to the Jamaica Observer.

He said he rushed to the aid of his elderly neighbour, who was asleep.

“A so now mi rush ‘roun deh a try help fi see if mi can cool the fire inna him house so it nuh touch our house,” Dennis said, explaining that he saw flames in the section of the house where the elderly neighbour kept his TV and DVD player.

“The water pressure was low in the pipe. Eventually, the heat get up in a rage and start pushing through the grille. We had to screw off back the hose and start full bucket. If there was water pressure, we could cool his house without the fire coming across,” he told the Observer.

The elderly neighbour, Edrick Robinson, otherwise called “Puss”, was still in shock when he spoke to the Observer yesterday.

“Mi nuh know a wah wake mi. Mi just know seh something wake mi and when mi look cross, a di fire mi see. Mi lose many things like fridge, washing machine, stove, DVD and mi sound system,” Robinson said.

Another of the fire victims, security guard Peta-Gaye Williams, shared how her work uniforms and almost everything else went up in the blaze. Fortunately, she saved a dresser with a few items of clothing.

“Mi hear one lady a shout mi strong. Mi start wonder why she a call mi. Mi only hear when she seh ‘Fire ‘roun a Puss’. When mi shot out and see waah a gwaan, mi run go inna di kitchen go tek out di two cylinders, but smoke overwhelmed me. Mi lose mi bed, two gym equipment, TV and wardrobe,” she said. “Mi save mi documents and clothes inna di dresser. The only thing mi save from mi uniform was my boots. Mi need help, but mi just glad seh mi nuh dead.”

Now, with no shelter or personal belongings, Dennis is the beneficiary of temporary accommodation courtesy of a friend who lives nearby.

His wish, though, is to receive assistance to rebuild and replace his two beds, what-nots, refrigerator, television, stove, sound system, and most importantly, at least one of the tablets for his son.

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