Two children were burnt to death during a fire which gutted their home at Pollydore Drive, Georgetown early yesterday morning.
Dead are Adam Marshall, 11, and Shania Marshall, 8, of Lot 71 Pollydore Drive. They were apparently left in the care of a teenage brother at the time. Police said that investigations are being conducted into the fire which occurred at about 4:30am.
The children’s mother Odessa Thomas, 36, and their thirteen-year-old brother suffered burns to their hands and are being treated at the Georgetown
Public Hospital. Neighbours reported that the blaze engulfed the two-storey wooden building in minutes and recalled hearing a little girl screaming for her mother as Thomas attempted to enter the burning house.
Thomas was still in shock when Stabroek News spoke to her yesterday afternoon at the hospital. She said that everyone in the home was sleeping when the fire began but did not give a clear response as to whether she was in the home at the time. Neighbours had said that she was not at home.
The woman recalled that her elder son slept on the sofa in the living room while the two smaller children slept in a bedroom between the washroom and another bedroom.
Hospital staff stated that officials from child protection services had already spoken with Thomas and said that they would be restricting visitors because her blood pressure was very high. When Stabroek News went to speak with Thomas, she was on a cell phone and a hospital staffer told her that that was not a good idea due to her blood pressure and said she needed to rest.
Meanwhile, multiple neighbours said that Thomas, a food vendor at the slaughterhouse, was not at home at the time the blaze started but was returning home when she came upon the scene. A neighbour said that the woman rushed to the burning house and attempted to push her hand through a window to break it causing her to suffer burns on her left hand and arm.
The neighbour said that the eldest child managed to escape through the bedroom window but the two smaller children were unable to do the same. Neighbours said that the children were physically small and may have been unable to lift the door bar to exit with the heavy smoke not helping matters. It was also noted that the large windows located at the front of the house were grilled.
One neighbour told Stabroek News that fire crews responded within 15 minutes but it was too late. “They found the little boy by the door like he was trying to get out there…we all heard the little girl screaming ‘mommy, mommy.’ The house was already gone. You couldn’t go in there it. She was just screaming in there,” the man said. He added that the fire crew had to break down the door because it was barred from inside.
The man said that it was a normal occurrence for the children to be home alone and on a regular basis they would go to a shop along the street to buy tea and candles. He noted that the electricity to the house had been disconnected for some time and there was no running water. He said that neighbours would provide the family with water when they needed.
Preliminary investigations into the blaze suggest that the fire may have been caused by an unattended candle, Stabroek News was told.
Another person was said to have lived in the upper flat of the building but Stabroek News was unable to make contact with him as he had reportedly gone to relatives to stay. It could not be confirmed whether the man was also in the home at the time of the fire.