-caught by residents
An ex-convict is now in police custody after setting his landlord’s apartment building ablaze yesterday morning following a confrontation over stolen property.
The 18-year-old was apprehended by residents of Kuru Kururu soon after he began his rampage through the village.
According to reports, the fire started at around 8:30 am after the young man had been accused of stealing a number of items. According to Clinton Rollox, owner of the building, the arsonist had become enraged after the allegations were put to him and had run upstairs, locking the door behind him. He reportedly started the fire at the front of the building and made his way through it, finally exiting through the backdoor.
However, his path of destruction had only just begun.
McKenzie proceeded several houses away to where Rollox was living where he broke several windows.
By that time, public-spirited residents had already given chase behind the arsonist and he was subsequently caught at a nearby creek, lying half-naked in a swamp. He was bound and kept captive by the residents until the fire service and the police arrived around an hour later.
“It was a community chase before the police came in,” one resident said.
A resident of the area, who asked to remain unnamed, explained that she had been inside her home when she heard cries of, “Fire! Fire!” She had gone outside just in time to see the arsonist exit the burning building and make his way down the street to Rollox’s home.
The woman explained that the apartment building was completely destroyed by the time the fire engine arrived on the scene, causing the two persons who lived upstairs to lose all of their possessions.
She added that no brigade was formed by the residents because there was poor water supply in the area. “All we coulda do was stand up,” the woman said. She continued, “I believe that if they [the fire service] had come a bit earlier then the downstairs could’ve been saved.”
The arsonist had reportedly moved to the area a few weeks ago following his release from prison. He had been hired by Rollox, a businessman in the area, to work on a farm and was provided with lodging as part of his contract.
However, the relationship between the pair soured due to the arsonist’s constant disrespect, Rollox said. Rollox explained that he had eventually fired the man last Saturday and had ordered him to move out of the downstairs apartment. The man was subsequently given lodging by a fellow worker who had been living in the apartment above his.
Rollox estimated his losses to be in the millions and lamented the loss of the apartment building, which he said had been of sentimental value to him. “My father died the same year it was built and the farm was built the same year too so it meant a lot to me,” he said. “It’s the first home I owned in my life. I can’t get a house like that again; I gotta go build all over again.”
The arsonist was taken to the Kuru Kururu Outpost following the fire but was later moved to the Timehri Police Station where he remains in custody.