Injured firemen recount harrowing Gafoor’s blaze

Five of the six firefighters who were injured following Monday’s blaze at the Gafoor’s Houston Complex are now at home recovering while the family of the other is left to cover the cost of a much needed CT scan as the man remains a patient of the Male Surgical Ward at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

The massive fire which gutted 60% of the Houston, East Bank Demerara Complex saw all of the city’s available resources being utilized to help fight the conflagration that had quickly spread from the bond to other sections of the complex.

While they eventually succeeded in confining the fire, a total of six firemen had to be treated for injuries ranging from smoke inhalation to one suffered as a result of a wall that had collapsed, pinning three men under the rubble.

Roylon Greene, 23, was one of the three who were injured as a direct result of the wall collapsing. Speaking with Stabroek News from his hospital bed in the Male Surgical Ward at the GPHC, Greene related that during the fire, he was working alongside a fireman in extinguishing the flames to the southern section of the complex.

During this time, he and another firefighter were in a particular area when a wall collapsed around them. Thinking nothing of it, Greene said that he lifted the other firefighter out of the building but it was after making it outside that he recalled that he was unable to feel his legs.

As result, he was taken to the GPHC where several tests were performed, however, two days after being admitted to the hospital, doctors are yet to give any specific information as it relates to what caused the pain in his legs. Greene further stated that as far as he is aware, there was an injury to  his spine but he’s not quite certain if that is indeed the case.

More troubling for him, however, is the fact that as it stands right now, his mother has to cover all medical costs since he has not yet received any word on whether the fire service will aid in covering medical costs.

According to Greene, this would also include the cost of undergoing a CT scan, which he hopes would enable doctors to pinpoint the seriousness of his injuries.

The man noted that he has not yet completed two years with the Guyana Fire Service.

Meanwhile, others like Stephan Patterson, Kerron Moore and Neville Cumberbatch were treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries.

Cumberbatch related that he had been treated for smoke inhalation as a result of the toxic fumes that firefighters were exposed to during Monday’s fire. The smoke inhalation was further compounded by injuries he suffered as a result of the wall in the southern section of the building collapsing.

He explained that he and several other were in the process of breaking a hole in a section of the wall when they looked up and saw sections of the structure tumbling  down.

“Everyone was trying to rush to safety and we ended up in a drain; some of us hit the concrete side of the drain,” he related.

At that time, Cumberbatch stated that 2-3 men were rendered unconscious and had to be taken to the hospital where they regained consciousness.

He has since done an x-ray which revealed damage to the tissue in his left leg and back. However, additional x-rays are expected to be done to determine the severity of damage to his chest where he is experiencing pains.

Meanwhile, Patterson recounted having to be pulled from the rubble after the debris from the collapsed wall pinned him down. He explained that he was caught off guard by the collapsing structure which came down before they had a chance to move out of harm’s way.

As a result, he suffered injuries to his head, neck and shoulders and was treated and subsequently discharged from the hospital.

Additionally, Moore, a firefighter for the past two years, is now on bed rest after the exposure to the toxic smoke  left him suffering from irritation to his eyes. Moore explained that he is unable to give much detail on what transpired that evening, since he can’t recall much.

Attempts to contact lead firefighter Dwayne Waldron and Eon Halley, the other two who were injured as a result of the fire were unsuccessful.

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