Fire destroys Golden Grove house, kills octogenarian

– neighbour saves three children

A courageous move by a good Samaritan saved the life of three small children, but their 84-year-old grandfather perished in a blaze that destroyed a home at Golden Grove East Coast Demerara.

Although neighbours heard the screams of Vivian Rodney, the flames that licked out from everywhere prevented them from getting into the house to save the octogenarian.
The origin of the fire is not yet determined, but rescuer Eon De Abreu said he believed it started at the south-eastern side of the upper flat in the two-storey house. De Abreu who lives obliquely opposite the destroyed house said that around 9:30 yesterday morning he was sitting on his steps when he saw the smoke emanating from the back of the house.

Pauline Rodney wife of the deceased being comforted by friends.
Pauline Rodney wife of the deceased being comforted by friends.

He immediately ran over whereupon he heard the screams of the children upstairs. The man said he got in and managed to grab the three little ones and get them out on the road. However, when he and another man attempted to go back in for Rodney, the fire had already licked through the entire upper wooden flat, preventing them from getting in the door.

“I hear someone else calling out in a male voice… and he was close to the door but I couldn’t see a thing…the smoke and fire was thick, thick at the door already,” De Abreu said.

The dead man’s daughter Alicia Rodney had left home earlier that morning. She left both her parents and the three children at home. She later received a phone call that the house was on fire and returned home.

Upon arrival, the woman was told that her father had perished and that the three children were safe. However, no one could verify where her mother, Pauline Rodney, was. Agony ensued as the firemen sought to confirm that there was only evidence of one body in the rubble. No one had seen Pauline Rodney leave the house, but it turned out that she had gone to run some errands.

The razed Rodney home at Public Road, Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara.
The razed Rodney home at Public Road, Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara.

The woman arrived back soon after, to learn of her husband’s death and her screams immediately rent the air. “Ow God! Meh husband dead? Only last night we de talking bout God and now he gone,” she lamented.

Persons tried to prevent her from going into the yard since her husband’s remains was evident just inside the front door downstairs. Apparently, the body fell when the ceiling caved in.

Meanwhile the neighbour to the left, Carolyn Benfield, said she saw the thick smoke while brushing her teeth on her back step. She said that she immediately got help to remove furniture from her house in case the fire had spread. Fortunately, the fire was contained to the one house, partly because there was no wind.

Residents exclaimed at the fact that the fire tender that put out the fire travelled all the way from the Campbellville Fire Station, when there are tenders at the Enmore and LBI estates, which are much closer. A tender did arrive from one of the estates but by then the firemen from Campbellville were already in action.

This is the second tragedy to have struck the family. Three years ago, Vivian Rodney’s daughter Roslyn Rodney, the mother of the three children who were rescued, was stabbed to death at the same Golden Grove home.

In the August 19, 2005, incident Roslyn Rodney’s eight-month-old daughter, Anna Lisa Syfox, had also been chopped in the head. Roslyn Rodney’s reputed husband, Lennox Syfox, was later charged with her murder and is currently on remand.

Stabroek News learnt that the children were in the care of their maternal grandparents. However, their grandfather had suffered a stroke and was incapacitated; this would have hindered him from getting out of the house yesterday morning.

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