Claxton Bay bush fire destroys 2 homes, leaves 9 homeless

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Brothers Toolsie Ramdass-Singh is now homeless as a bush fire spread to and destroyed his home at Soledad Road, North Claxton Bay, on Saturday. – Lincoln Holder

A raging bush fire, aided by strong breeze, destroyed the homes of two brothers, at Soledad Road North, Claxton Bay, on Saturday, leaving nine members of their family, including a three-year old, homeless.

Homeowners Thakoor Persad-Baboolal and Toolsie Ramdass-Singh are now appealing for help as they escaped only with their lives and the clothes on their backs.

Having lived there for all their lives, the brothers said it would be difficult to relocate and are seeking assistance to rebuild.

The families spent the night amongst the ruined structures, asleep on a tarpaulin they received from their councillor and inside one of the cars which was saved.

Persad-Baboolal, an auto electrician, said, “We have nothing. I clean up a spot under the burnt shed. We asking for help because it come like we homeless.”

He said three vehicles belonging to the two families were also damaged.

They said, so far, only councillor Nadia Khan had visited to offer any assistance.

Ramdass-Singh, 50, said he and his two sons, musicians Nirmal and Sewraj, who last performed with the late Chutney/Soca artiste Anil Bheem’s band, and are featured in the singer’s last video at the Rig, also lost all of their equipment. Ramdass-Singh’s daughter, who also lives with him, was at her mother’s home at the time fo the fire.

Nirmal said, “We lost keyboards, bass guitar, electric guitars, drum kits, studio monitors, studio equipment, everything, key board stands, two Mac Books.”

He said between 3.30 to 4 pm on Saturday, he was preparing for an event later that night, which he had to cancel.

“I decided to go into my room and lie down for about an hour. I heard my brother calling me to come outside.”

Brothers Toolsie Ramdass-Singh, right, and Thakoor Baboolal are now homeless as a bush fire spread to and destroyed their homes at Soledad Road, North Claxton Bay, on Saturday. – Lincoln Holder

When he ventured out, he said, “All I could feel was heat and see smoke and fire.”

He said attempts were made to extinguish the blaze which spread through his family’s wooden structure and then to his uncle’s home.

Ramdass-Singh explained that the house did not have a pipe-borne water supply and they families usually purchased water for their daily needs.

He said they used the water they had to try to quell the flames, “but although we were wetting the house, the water was not doing anything.”

Nirmal said, “The house was in flames so fast we could do nothing. The fire lit it like paper. It took just about four minutes to be completely destroyed.”

In that four minutes, he said, they rushed back into the inferno to attempt to salvage musical equipment belonging to other people.

“We were able to make two trips. I saved a lap top and a dholak, but when we tried to go back for our stuff, it was too late. If we had stayed in there any longer, we would have been burnt, so we just let go.”

Nirmal said no one was injured, but the family’s old dog, Cupod, was scared by the noise and crawled under his burning bed.

He said it was an emotional moment when the dog’s remains were discovered.

Pointing out that there was a history of bush fires in the area, Nirmal said he noticed the fire earlier in the evening, but it appeared to be slowly dissipating.

With the strong breeze, however, the fire grew, making a clear path to their homes.

Persad-Baboolal, 59, said his home provided shelter for him and his wife, their son, daughter-in-law and grandchild.

At the time of the fire, he said he was in Whiteland assisting a church in casting a foundation.

“We could save nothing but our selves. We tried, but it was too much fire and smoke and the breeze was real high.”