The Ministry of Social Protection yesterday presented relief packages, including beds, mattresses and cooking utensils, to the victims of last Friday’s Victoria Road, Plaisance, East Coast Demerara fire.
A total of 40 persons from six families benefited from the donations, which were made as a result of a collaboration between the Ministry, the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region Four, the Plaisance/Industry Neighbourhood Democratic Council and government agencies.
The packages included stoves, cutlery, and crockery, as well as food vouchers to be used to uplift items from Nigel’s Super-market in Georgetown. Each victim was also given a quantity of cash to assist in their rental of temporary accommodation.
The handing over was done yesterday afternoon at the community’s secondary school.
Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally, during her brief remarks, expressed sadness at the tragedy on behalf of the government and she told the victims that material things can be attained over time but not life. “It may not be too much but I know there are going to be people that are going to chip in and help you,” she said.
One of the victims, Rowena Glasgow, a seamstress, said that yesterday’s contributions would help her in some way to get her life back together. She planned on using the cash given to her, if sufficient, to purchase a new sewing machine so that she can start earning again.
Ronette Hetsberger-Murray said the donations she received will go a long way since she has three children attending school. “It’s not easy when you have children going to school and this contribution will go towards ensuring that the transition from what they are accustomed to, to what they will be getting,” she said.
Hetsberger-Murray said she is currently separated from her children since they are being housed at the homes of different relatives.
Last Friday afternoon, the fire of unknown origin destroyed three Victoria Road houses, including an apartment building, and scorched nearby properties.
The following day, when investigators returned to the scene, they stumbled upon skeletal remains, suspected to be those of 80-year-old James Johnson, who is believed of have perished in the fire.
Johnson occupied one of the rooms in the apartment building.
A source close to the investigation yesterday related to Stabroek News that while the buildings in the street had been experiencing electrical issues prior to the fire, the findings so far are pointing in the direction of negligence as being the cause of the fire.
However, the investigation is not yet completed as the source noted that one occupant, who is deemed a person of interest and who occupied a room on the ground floor of the apartment building where the fire is suspected to have started, is yet to be interviewed.
Temporary accommodation was provided for some of the victims at the community centre in the aftermath of the fire.
Over the weekend, Junior Minister of Natural Resources Simona Broomes and Minister of Finance Winston Jordan had also visited the scene and donated toiletries and other items to the victims.