A family of four counted its blessings yesterday morning after members of the Guyana Fire Service prevented a fire, which charred the top floor of its two-storey Laluni Street home, from spreading and consuming the rest of the building.
Fire Chief Marlon Gentle told Stabroek News that preliminary investigations revealed that the fire was caused by a plugged in iron which was left resting on a bed in one of the house’s bedrooms for hours after the family left for church.
He said the Fire Service received word of the fire around 11:16 which prompted the response of the Alberttown Fire Station, which is just a few minutes from the Laluni Street, Queenstown location. Alberttown was subsequently backed up by the Central Fire Station and they worked together to put the fire out.
When Stabroek News arrived on the scene close to noon, the fire had already been quelled and several persons were seen crying and otherwise lamenting the damage the fire had caused. The inhabitants of the home however, Elaine Bobb and her grandchildren, did not arrive until about noon.
Asked what transpired in the bedroom before the family left the house yesterday morning, Bobb told firefighters that her 15-year-old granddaughter pressed a shirt for her to wear to church. The girl confirmed her grandmother’s account to the firefighters and added that she did the pressing in her room on her bed and that she plugged out the iron and a fan before she and the rest of the family left for church. One of the firefighters told her however that both items were still plugged in after the fire was put out. Moreover, she was told that the iron was found lying on the bed, and that this was likely the cause of the fire.
Workers from Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL), which turned up to disconnect power to the building, explained to Stabroek News that the plugged in iron would have had to have been left lying on the bed for as much as two hours before creating conditions conducive for a fire. He also speculated that “breeze” probably got into the room and fed the blaze. The girl’s room, in which the fire started, suffered the most damage. It, as well as everything in it, was completely charred.
The bathroom and toilet area just behind her room also sustained heavy damage. Another bedroom, which sits opposite the girl’s, was also damaged while a bedroom in front of hers, as well as the upstairs living room, had their walls and ceilings burnt. The downstairs rooms were mostly untouched by the fire although they suffered some water damage.
Bobb told fire-fighters that she was in church when she was alerted to the fire. The woman said she usually ignores her phone while in church but yesterday decided to follow up a missed call she received. She said that her granddaughter texted the person who called her phone and he told her that her house was on fire.
Things took a turn for the worse when a male relative arrived. The man was heard chastising the children who stay in the house. The man then dealt a slap to the face of a girl, much to the disfavour of onlookers, the firefighters particularly.
Gentle told the family he understood the situation but saw no need for violence, while another fire-fighter noted that “he knock the girl like she is a big man,” and registered his annoyance with the display. After she was slapped the girl could be seen crying inconsolably while holding her jaw and crying out for pain.
Despite the fire and the confusion around her, Bobb kept her composure. The woman was thankful that the house, which she is still making mortgage payments for, was still standing in spite of the damage. She said that she had been fasting all of last week, and speculated that the damage might have been worse had it not been for her being a “child of god.”.
“We can sleep on the floor, we can sleep anywhere,” she said as she expressed her appreciation to the fire service for their “good work.”