KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – One house in Paul’s Avenue was destroyed Wednesday night while residents and firefighters helped to save another in the second fire in this city in about six weeks.
Police told I-Witness News on Thursday that Fire Department officials were still investigating the cause of the fire that destroyed the wooden house and damaged several others.
Investigators will also try to ascertain the monetary value of the loss and damage.
The National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC Radio) reported Thursday that Cybil Alexander, also of Paul’s Avenue, owned the house that was destroyed.
It was, however, being rented by Maxine and Nkrumah Phillips, also of Paul’s Avenue. Maxine, who lives in the United States, is said to have returned there recently.
A two-storey house, owned and occupied by Alexander, was damaged by the blame and was saved mainly by the efforts of residents of the community.
The building housing The Green Onion Restaurant was also damaged, according to report.
According to NBC Radio, residents of Paul’s Avenue were able to remove valuables from the house in which Alexander lives and to detach a gas cylinder.
Alexander told NBC News she is thankful to be alive, although she almost lost the house, which was built in 1978.
Meanwhile, Paul’s Avenue resident Grantley “Ipa’ Constance told I-Witness News on Thursday that the fire began sometime between 7:30 and 8 p.m.
“The firefighters were kind of prompt but their equipment leaves a lot to be desired,” said Constance, a calypsonian.
“I think they did a good job. I can’t ram them on that but I think the Fire Service still needs the adequate fire-fighting equipment to deal with fires of this sort. We still see people still coming out to fight fire without gas tanks and the proper equipment and so forth,” he further stated.
Reports reaching I-Witness News say that some of the fire hoses were leaking and photographs of the scene show water gushing from fire hydrants onto the street.
“I am no export on this, but you see it in the bigger world, [where] you see the Fire Service moving and you see the paramedics moving because you don’t know if anybody is hurt in the fire by smoke inhalation or whatever. Here, you don’t see these two components joining together to deal with those kinds of things,” Constance further said.
“Given the shortage of equipment, I think the Fire Service did a good job,” he, however, said.
Constance told I-Witness News that firefighters and residents took between 90 minutes and two hours to bring the fire under control.
“But the property was burnt to the ground and nothing was saved there. The house in the community here are very close and there are other houses that were affected by the fire as well,” he said.
Constance said that while his own home was affected, mainly by smoke, his brother’s house was scorched and sustained damage to the roof and windows.
Speaking about residents’ response to the fire, Constance said: “Paul’s Lot always looks out for its people and the people responded very promptly. They were adamant in putting the fire out and a lot of people helped the police, which is expected in any area in Paul’s Lot.”
The fire Wednesday night was the third in the community in the past three years or so, including a wooden house immediately in front of Constance’s that was burnt to the ground.
“It was frightening because I thought I would have lost my house because of the rage of the fire encroaching on my property. I lost a couple of windows, my doors and part of my roof,” Constance said of the fire three years ago.
“The community is as closely knit as the houses because we actually step out from one house to the other. We can walk on each other’s roof if they are all flat and levelled. The proximity is very close and once a house is affected in Pauls’ Lot, it can take out the whole region,” he further said.
Fire fighters in mid-October responded to a blaze at the Financial Complex, which houses the Office of the Prime Minister and other government departments.
Although the blaze there was confined to the third floor of the building, it destroyed all the data collected from this year’s census.