Ten homeless after fire destroys two houses, small business in Marabella

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Fire victim Junior John and a neighbour look at the burnt the remains after fire that destroyed his home and two other structures on Bay road, Marabella on Thursday night. Photo by Lincoln Holder

A fire in Marabella early Friday morning destroyed two homes and a business, leaving ten people including two children homeless.

The cracking sounds of the fire awakened residents of The Line near Bay Road at around 1.35 am, and they ran out of their homes.

Residents suspect that cable thieves may have been responsible for the fire. Cutting the lines near the houses are believed to have triggered an electrical issue. But the residents were unable to identify any of the thieves and cables were found.

Sitting on a chair at the roadside and looking at the rubble of his home, Samuel James, 57, said all he managed to save was the short pants he was wearing. James, his wife Lynette, mother-in-law, 65, two adult children and two grandsons, 11 and six, said they do not have any money to rebuild a house.

“I have nothing. Someone gave me this jersey I am wearing. I lost my ID card, phone, everything. We (family) could not pass in the front gate because the fire was running on the lines. We passed through the neighbour’s yard to get out,” James said.

Fire victim Junior John shows the remains of a Bible that survived the fire that destroyed his home and two other structures on Bay road, Marabella on Thursday night. Photo by Lincoln Holder

“The fire spread so fast that it was already too late to salvage anything when the fire officers came. The school term started this week, and my grandsons lost all their uniforms and books.”

He said his daughter woke up to hug her younger son, who was being fussy because he was not feeling too well.

She glimpsed sparks on the electricity pole, saw fire, and alerted everyone. The children are students of San Fernando Boy’s RC School.

Their four-bedroom wooden and concrete house went up in flames within minutes.

The two-bedroom wooden and concrete house next door where Junior John, his wife and adult daughter lived was also destroyed.

No one was at home.

John works at St Benedict’s College in La Romaine.

He said he got a call around 2 am about the fire.

As he looked through the ruins of his home and pondered his future, he estimated his loss to be over $100,000.

He said he was unsure of how he would get back on his feet.

He found partially burnt bibles among the charred ruins.

“I have three bibles. These are all I have from my house. Everything was burnt to the ground,” James said.

The nearby mini-mart/ food business owned by Alanis Alexander was also destroyed. The fire did not spread to her nearby home. When Newsday visited the area, she was not at home.

Newsday spoke with the area’s councillor Michael Johnson by phone after he met the affected families.

“What occurred this morning is nothing short of a tragedy. My heart is with the affected families. These are all honest, hard-working residents. I join with our entire community, in sending our prayers, support and love to them in this trying time,” he said.

Fire victim Samuel Jones sits in disbelief after a fire destroyed his home and two other structures on Bay road, Marabella on Thursday night. Photo by Lincoln Holder

“I wish to thank the Fire Services for their work in containing the blaze and the disaster management unit of the San Fernando City Corporation, for their quick response to requests from my office for assistance. This truly is a difficult time for the James, the Alexander and the John families. May God see them through.”

Investigations are ongoing.