A fire yesterday engulfed a two-storey house at Sisters Village, West Bank Demerara, and completely destroyed its upper flat, leaving seven persons homeless.
According to Jennifer Springer, 47, who occupied the upper flat of the Lot 114 Sideline Dam home, at around 9.30 am yesterday she was sitting near the septic tank downstairs when she heard an explosion from the upper flat. She said she went upstairs to see what had caused the sound, but was confronted with heat and flames, and had no choice but to retrace her steps. The woman, who was alone at home at the time of the incident, said she had no idea what might have caused the fire, as she had no recollection of having left a stove or gas turned on.
Fifty-six-year-old Albert Gulliver (the owner of the building) and 17-year-old Marceline Lyght (Springer’s daughter) also occupied the three-bedroom upper flat. Leona Gulliver (the owner’s niece), 23; Lugard King, 26; and their two children, ages two and four, were the occupants of the two-bedroom bottom flat. All of the downstairs occupants were out at the time of the fire; Leona in Bagotville, King at work, and the children at school and with an aunt in the same yard, respectively.
Gulliver, a cane farmer, estimated his losses at over $2 million; the construction of the house alone having cost over $1 million. He said he was in the ‘backdam’ when the incident occurred. Leona on the other hand related to Stabroek News that she has no idea of the actual value of her losses, while adding that her refrigerator and gas stove – which were both destroyed – cost over $400,000. She said they only managed to salvage a wall divider and a suite but the latter had been scorched.
While Gulliver said he believed the source of the fire was electrical, Leona related that the fire service’s findings were that it was caused by a kerosene stove in the upper flat.
It was then revealed by Gulliver that the fire began at the back of the upper flat of the house, where the kitchen was situated. However, he was not convinced of the firemen’s findings, as he speculated on how the stove in question was scorched, but still basically intact, while his pressure cooker and other iron utensils melted in the fire.
Stabroek News also spoke with Janice Dodson, who resides next door to Gulliver at Lot 115 Sideline Dam, Sisters Village, WBD, and she related what she observed. According to her, she was sitting on her front step, and had just told her daughter-in-law that she was smelling smoke, when they discovered smoke emanating from the front bedroom window of the upper flat. As a result, she said they began shouting “fire” to which other neighbours and the young men of the village responded and immediately formed a fire brigade. Dodson related that as the flames were being blown in the direction of her house those in the fire brigade began pouring water on her walls, while the young men began emptying her furniture onto the front lawn. Thus, the only damage to her property by the fire was a scorched outer wall and broken windowpanes. She also related that by the time the fire service arrived, the house was almost completely destroyed.
Meanwhile, the occupants of the destroyed building said they will be staying with family – who all reside in the same yard – for the time being. When Stabroek News arrived on the scene yesterday afternoon, family members were all busy getting the property cleared of fire-scorched debris.