Diwali celebrations ended abruptly yesterday for a Corriverton family left homeless after firecracker caused the upper flat of their two-storey house to go up in flames.
Janke Bhawanitin Bacchus, 60, of Garrison Street, Queenstown, Corriver-ton, told Stabroek News that the fire started around 1:45 pm in the ceiling of her house. Bacchus occupied the residence with her son, Anthony, 36, and her seven-year-old grandson, Andrew.
Bacchus said she had just finished making her Diwali “sweetmeats,” which she was planning to share out to her neighbours when the fire started. She recalled that just before the fire the sounds of “fire-rockets” were blasting all around. Several youths in the neighbourhood who were responsible for lighting the devices disappeared immediately and the noise stopped.
Bacchus said she was in the kitchen in the lower flat of the house with Andrew when he alerted her about a strange noise coming from upstairs. She said she sent him up to check and he ran back and told her that there was smoke emanating from the ceiling. Upon investigating, she found that the firecracker had dropped in her gutter and was smoking. It later shot up to her ceiling through the vent and exploded.
One of the boys, she said, ran after the firecracker and saw when it landed near the gutter of her house.
According to Bacchus, despite the intense heat and smoke and her panicking, she managed to grab some clothing and footwear as well as cash and a few pieces of jewellery. In tears, she said her house was well furnished and had modern conveniences and it pained her to watch everything go up in flames. Other jewellery, cash other items were also lost. She lamented too that “to get a house now is not easy.”
She added that her grandson, who lost all his books and school uniforms, was terrified.
Anthony said he was out working nearby when he got a phone call that the house was on fire and he ran over. He recalled that when he reached the entire upstairs was ablaze. He said the heat was too intense and he “could not do anything.” Shortly after the firefighters, from the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), Corriver-ton Branch and the Skeldon Sugar Estate, arrived and managed to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to the lower flat.
When this newspaper got to the scene after 3 pm, the firefighters were still there dousing the building. An official from the fire service said they received the call around 2 pm and arrived at the scene within minutes. He related that the upper flat was already engulfed but they were able to control the blaze, thus prevented it from spreading to the nearby homes.
After the firefighters left, Anthony tried to recover some jewellery in the debris. He told this newspaper that he “found a bit–nothing much; compared to what was in there.”
Saheed Hamid, a neighbour opposite, commended the ranks from the GFS and the estate and said they arrived promptly at the scene.
Despite the law against firecrackers, vendors were still selling them at the Skeldon market while others were walking around and selling them, persons told this newspaper.