4 children among 8 left homeless – Fire guts Maraval house

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MAIL: Seanece Boochoon takes mail out of the mailbox at the front of her Moraldo Street, Maraval home after it was damaged by fire on Thursday. PHOTO BY FAITH AYOUNG – Faith Ayoung

An early-morning fire on June 20, gutted a house on Moraldo Street in Maraval, leaving a family of eight, including four children, homeless. Residents said they believe the incident was most likely caused by an electrical fire.

Around 7.55 am, Donna Long was alerted to the fire by her daughter who said she smelt smoke.

Speaking with Newsday, Long said she saw a bedroom on fire and immediately evacuated the house. Four adults and the family’s pet dog escaped unharmed. The four children, aged five, seven, 13, and 15, were not at home when the fire occurred.

Long said she was terrified during the entire incident and was grateful no one was injured or lost their life. “The heat was just overwhelming,” she said. As the fire rapidly spread, Long said, the roof eventually gave way and collapsed.

The displaced family, having lost everything except the clothes on their backs, was where they would sleep on Thursday night.

“The councillor for the area was here this morning and he said mattresses will be provided for us but as of right now, we don’t know where we’re going to go or where we’re going to sleep.”

Long said her mother Yvonne, who lives in the US, clearly went into a state of shock on hearing the news, as she complained of feeling unwell.

Long thanked the community for their swift support, noting that neighbours used all the water in their tanks to try and help put out the flames. She said this was a very selfless act, especially given the fact that the area does not have a steady or regular water supply.

Residents in the community also praised the Fire Service’s prompt response.

“They were very swift. Within ten minutes of calling them, they were here,” said a resident who asked not to be unidentified.

Due to the actions of the residents and the quick response of the firemen, the flames were restricted to the Long family’s home and did not spread to other parts of the building, including the back, which is home to a family including a person who is confined to a wheelchair.

A member of that family who live at the back of the building said she was at work when the fire started.

“When we got the call and heard the news, we immediately started thinking of our mother, who is in a wheelchair. We were so frightened of what could have happened.”

The woman said her mother became terrified on learning a part of the building was on fire because she didn’t know how she would have been able to leave had the flames spread. While their home was spared, the intense heat singed some of the plants in their yard, while the smoke left black soot on their walls.

According to a report from the Fire Service, 90 per cent of the building and nearly $50,000 worth of household items were destroyed. A 400-gallon water tank valued at about $800 was also damaged.

The report said firemen used 15,000 litres of water to extinguish the fire.

Investigations are continuing. Anyone willing to assist the family can call Donna Long at 722-1539.