After almost losing their home to a serial arsonist last Friday night, a family at Bath Settlement, West Coast Berbice is still being terrorized by the man who set another fire behind their home on Monday.
Pulmattie ‘Veera’ Etwaru, 66, told this newspaper that on Monday night they barely saw the man hiding on a jamoon tree in her neighbour’s yard and after an alarm was raised he hurriedly jumped off.
He then set a fire on the dam behind her home and when the police arrived he had already disappeared.
Yesterday, a resident related to the family members that he had seen the man around 7 pm on Monday taking some items into the cemetery where there is overgrown vegetation.
They then decided to check yesterday afternoon and were terrified when they found a jar of gasoline, a new funnel, old newspapers, a hose, matches and cigarette lighters.
In another location they found two shirts belonging to the man and a bath towel stashed among some bushes near their home.
Meanwhile, under the jamoon tree where he had been hiding they found a plastic bag with some phone numbers. They assumed that it had fallen out of his pocket when he jumped off the tree.
Etwaru said they continue to live in fear and that even at their age, she and her husband, Malcolm Etwaru would take turns keeping watch at nights.
The man is the ex-husband of Etwaru’s daughter, 42-year-old Seeta Persaud. He is also accused of burning down Persaud’s Bath Experiment Scheme, West Coast Berbice home on May 28 and, before that, in 2009.
He is being sought by the police for the May 28 fire and is also wanted for threatening Persaud and her family, and for intruding on their premises.
In Friday’s fire the kitchen was destroyed but they managed to douse the flames before it engulfed the home.
Persaud had related to Stabroek News that she and her partner Nawaz Chaseem were asleep in the lower flat of the home when she awoke suddenly around 11:40 pm and saw the “big fire” by the front door.
She recounted that she started to scream and quickly opened the back door to escape. By then Chaseem had gotten up and grabbed a bucket and started to douse the building with water.
Persaud said that she tried to help but was prevented from doing so after she started to “stifle and cough” from the thick smoke.
Meantime, her parents Malcolm and Pulmattie ‘Veera’ Etwaru who were in the upper flat also started to suffocate and were at first unable to get down to safety.
Her father eventually jumped over the rail on the stairway to escape while her mother grabbed some important documents and ran out to the veranda. The woman contemplated jumping but by then the fire was under control, Persaud recalled.
She said that her father had to remove a zinc sheet that he had placed on the front stairs, for his wife to pass. He had put the zinc there to alert them in case the arsonist, who had attempted to enter the house before, tried to go up.
After escaping, Etwaru noticed a jar of gasoline with a hose and funnel attached to a bucket close to the front door. The hose and a piece of rolled up newspaper were pushed under the door and a cigarette lighter was nearby.
He also noticed an opening on the picket fence and realized that the arsonist gained entry through his neighbours’ yard and used the same route to escape.