Couva fire victim still alive

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The house in Exchange Village, Couva that caught a fire on April 3. – Photo by Rishard Khan

Couva fire victims alive

Contrary to reports on social media and from neighbours, one of the hospitalised victims from Wednesday’s arson attack in Couva is still alive.

Reports circulating online claimed Lester Foster, 52, had died of his injuries. However, senior police and medical sources denied this claim saying he remains warded at the San Fernando General Hospital in critical condition.

Foster had burns on 90 per cent of his body.

Foster is one of three people who survived a fire that erupted around 2.45 am on Wednesday at a Housing Development Company (HDC) duplex on Yakesh Yankaran Extension, Exchange Village, Couva. He lived there with his sister, Lorna, 54 and his nephew Tyrone, 25. At the time of the fire, his nephew had a friend over, Leela Ranjitsingh, 17.

Tyrone was found dead on the ground floor near the front door. Fire investigators believe he was trying to put out the blaze with a bucket. The other occupants, who were upstairs, were hospitalised with burns of varying severity.

Fire investigators and police believe the incident was an arson attack as trails of fire were seen heading into some nearby bushes, fuelled by what could have been a flammable substance such as gasoline. Neighbours also reported hearing a loud explosion before seeing the fire.

The incident is being treated as a homicide.

Following the incident, the HDC said it would work to ensure the safety of its residents and prevent such an incident from recurring.

In a release on Thursday, opposition shadow for National Security and former Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal called for the government to secure HDC developments against crime.

“The new outbreak of fatal crimes at Housing Development Corporation residential communities is another dreadful result of the Government’s blatant failure to secure the nation,” he said.

“The Government must urgently adopt a multi-pronged approach to stamping out the growing trend of vicious and lethal crimes in these housing districts.”

He said the police must assign surveillance equipment, competent police officers, and other essential resources to the respective housing districts to eradicate weapons and illegal drugs and arrest known criminals.

“The authorities must be proactive and aggressive in ensuring that the deadly crimes at Harpe Place and Oropoune Gardens and arson at Couva are not repeated or spread to other HDC districts.”

In a separate release, Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh slammed Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis over the HDC’s commitment to ensure safety at its developments.

“It is an abysmal disgrace that after nine years in Government, Housing Minister Camille Robinson-Regis is only now speaking about security against crime in HDC areas. Since this Government’s last promise to install fire escapes in HDC homes, we are yet to see the full materialisation of that necessary initiative.”