Fatal Stewartville fire set by six-year-old – Fire Chief

Chief Fire Officer Marlon Gentle has confirmed that the fire that claimed the life of three-weeks-old Aleisha Budhram at Stewartville on the West Coast of Demerara Wednesday night was started by her six-year-old brother, who was left at home unsupervised.

Speaking to this newspaper on Thursday, Gentle said that officers from the Guyana Fire Service determined that the child caused the fire after conducting investigations.

“Yes, we have concluded the investigations. The six-year-old child was playing with matches and set alight the bed in which the baby was. He then put a shirt on and ran outside shouting. But by the time the neighbours were alerted the [place was already in flames],” said Gentle.

“This is a clear case of why we stress that [children must not be left unattended],” said Gentle, pointing out that this should not even occur during the day, much less at night.

The fire at the 116 Middle Street, Stewartville, West Coast Demerara residence started at around 8:30pm and by the time the fire-fighters put it out, the property had been gutted.

Police had initially said the fire was of unknown origin, while noting that the baby and her six-year-old brother were at home when the fire was observed by neighbouring residents.

Owner of the property, Kevin Smith, said on the night of the fire that his girlfriend’s relatives were at the home in Stewartville spending a two-week holiday there. The mother of the dead child declined to speak with this newspaper, when approached.

Smith said that the house, which was uninsured, was worth about $5 million. He added that he suffered losses too in terms of furnishings and appliances to the tune of about $2 million.

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