The charred remains of a Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara man were pulled from the debris of his home early yesterday morning after a fire that the authorities are treating as arson.
Dead is Sean Griffith, 40, of 67 Side Line Dam, Golden Grove, who was a father of one and employee of Prince Shipping Company.
The police force yesterday said that the fire is being treated as a suspected arson.
Residents believe that Griffith was murdered before the house was set on fire. They said the fire was seen at approximately 1.10 am and they sounded an alarm but only a cousin, who was residing in the bottom flat of the two storey concrete building, responded.
Commander of ‘C’ Division Calvin Brutus yesterday confirmed to Stabroek News that the police are investigating the reports made by residents.
Brutus added that one person is already in police custody.
At the scene yesterday, detectives and fire service investigators were carrying out independent investigations. However, up to press time yesterday, the origin of the fire remained unknown.
Shannon Haynes, Griffith’s sister, told Stabroek News she only learnt of the fire after receiving a call from her mother around 3 am. She said when she got to the scene, fire- fighters were battling the flames, which had already destroyed the interior of the house.
Haynes said her family would not be quick to come to a conclusion about how her brother met his death and would be waiting on the results of an autopsy, which is scheduled for today.
After seeing the fire, residents said they called out to Griffith but their calls went unanswered. However, they said the cousin, who was downstairs, said “somebody up there” and proceeded to remove his items from the bottom flat.
The neighbours said that despite numerous calls and the intense heat, they did not see Griffith, leading them to believe that he was already dead.
A neighbour, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that before the fire spread through the building she heard three explosions, suspected to be gunshots. The woman added that not long after the explosions, she heard a cry of “Fire! Fire!”
Based on her account, the fire started at the front of the house. By the time, the fire service responded, she said the fire had gutted the house. She stated that firefighters spent almost three hours battling the flames. “The fire keep starting up because there was heavy winds and when a part out another part start up,” the woman recalled.
The neighbour noted that Griffith’s body was found in the vicinity of his living room.
Meanwhile, another neighbour, who also asked not to be named, said he was on the road when he saw the fire in the front bedroom and sounded an alarm.
He said after Griffith’s cousin responded to the alarm, the man removed nine barrels along with his car before closing the gate, thereby preventing first responders from entering the premises. He and other neighbours noted that at no point did the cousin attempt to enter the top flat to save Griffith. “He was out here calm, calm on the phone… watching the house burning. He move out the barrels and his car, loose the dogs and lock the gate, knowing Sean was upstairs,” a woman said.
The neighbours said the two men would always have misunderstandings and on a few occasions the cousin made threats to burn the house.
The gutted property is owned by Griffith’s parents, who reside overseas.
Residents yesterday recalled Griffith as a humble, jovial individual. “We and he live so good. He always stop and gaff with we… you would always find he by a shop on the line top gaffing,” one said.