A 64-year-old Arima woman is thanking God and her neighbours for their swift response in pulling her and her two grandchildren out of their burning house at Faith Avenue, Maturita, on Wednesday afternoon.
Speaking with Newsday at her home on Thursday, Gregoria Edwards said it was shouts from her neighbours that woke her from an afternoon nap after smoke began to pour from the windows of the house.
Edwards, who is the main guardian of her grandchildren, ten-year-old Sydney Duke and Sergio Duke, eight, said she barely had time to understand what was going on before neighbours took her and the children out of the house.
“I was sound asleep, because I wasn’t feeling well, when all of a sudden I heard someone shouting, ‘Miss Gloria, your house on fire!’ so I was still dazed and half-asleep…
“When I looked at the top of a nearby wall I just saw flames. I was dazed. I didn’t know what to do.
“One of my neighbours came and grabbed me. I told them I couldn’t leave, because my house was burning down, but they still grabbed me and the children and took me outside.”
Edwards, who is a diabetic and suffers from spinal and hip pain, said she could barely walk when neighbours helped her out of the house .
She said she was still shaken and stressed after the experience, but was heartened by their willingness to help, even though she did not even know some of them personally.
“Right next door is a playing field. I remember seeing a lot of people running through the field to my house.
“Some of these people I didn’t even know, but yet they seemed to know me, because they were calling me by name. So I was really happy and grateful to see people willing to lend assistance.”
Edwards said thanks to the quick work of neighbours who formed a bucket brigade, the fire was confined to the back of the house so the kitchen, living room and one of the bedrooms are still habitable.
She added that even the fire officers commended the neighbours for their response.
“The fire officers got here quick enough, but by the time they reached here, everything was more or less over, thanks to the neighbours. One of the fire officers told me himself that I was lucky to have such good neighbours, because this could have been much worse.
“I’m thankful for all of my neighbours, because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be sitting down here speaking with you here today, because when I saw flames through the holes in the blocks, I just stood there with my hands on my head.”
Edwards suspects the fire may have begun with a lit cockset in one of the back rooms.
Newsday spoke with one of Edwards’ neighbours, who said they did not have time to think about their own safety and acted on instinct when they helped the family out of the house.
“All the neghbours from every direction just jumped their fence and began throwing water. It was in the heat of the moment – we didn’t have time to think about much else besides getting the family out.
“I told them to stay in the garage by us while we took action and extinguished the blaze.
“It was really nice for us to come together and do this, because this is a small community, but we look out for each other.”
When Newsday visited, several neighbours came to see Edwards and her grandchildren to offer sympathy and help, as a pastor assisted in clearing out burnt appliances and furniture.
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