Special olympian seeks help after fire destroys home

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The home of special olympian Darius Gookool on Garth Road, Princes Town, was destroyed by fire on Wednesday. – PHOTO COURTESY GOOKOOL FAMILY

Special Olympian Darius Gookool is seeking help to rebuild his home which was destroyed by fire on Wednesday.

Gookool, 24, lived with his parents David Gookool and Aruna Mohammed in an apartment building at Garth Road, Princes Town, which was owned by one of Mohammed’s relatives.

Four families, consisting of 14 people, lived in the two-storey concrete and wooden structure.

David Gookool told the Newsday while they are thankful no lives were lost or injuries sustained, they were not able to save anything because of the speed with which the flames engulfed the building.

Everything was destroyed including Darius’s medals and trophy earned as a Special Olympian, representing TT locally and abroad.

Gookool said around 8 am, he smelled smoke and thought someone was setting fire to garbage outside. On checking outside, he realised the house was on fire.

He raised and alarm and ran back inside the house to bring Darius to safety as he is hearing impaired.

Together with another neighbour, Gookool attempted to use a hose to douse the flames. A bucket brigade was also formed.

Darius Gookool, right, with family members. – PHOTO COURTESY GOOKOOL FAMILY

However, Gookool explained, “an uncle opened a door to a room in which the fire was contained. As soon as the fire got the oxygen it started to get out of control.

“The upper floor is wooden and all the wood just burn and fall down below. The fire services reached on time, but it was too late to save the building.”

He said he was not sure how the fire started and was not yet able to estimate the cost of the damage.

Darius, a hockey player, represented TT at the Special Olympics World Winter Games, 2017 in Austria. Gookool said Darius was also due to travel to Russia last month to represent TT again, but the war with Ukraine happened.

“We have never asked the Government for anything, but we have lost everything and, on behalf of Darius, we are asking for some help to rebuild or relocate.”

He said while none of the other 13 residents had to seek medical treatment, Darius would have to be medically examined.

“I spoke to a doctor who said to bring him for an examination, because even though he is looking normal, because he is a special case, he may be traumatised by what has happened.”

Investigations into what caused the blaze are continuing.