Fire ripped through four Pike Street, Kitty homes this morning completely destroying three and leaving the fourth uninhabitable and more than 20 persons, including children, are now homeless.
When Stabroek News visited the scene this morning, residents and neighbours were gathered on the narrow one-way street looking on in disbelief. Some of the residents were also seen attempting to clean and salvage anything that might not have been damaged in the fire, while others took shelter at the homes of neighbours, trying to count their losses and figure out what their next step will be.
According to the residents, the raging fire erupted at around 3:05 am, at Lot 185 Pike Street, on the southern side of the street, before spreading west and then east, to three other homes.
“I would normally get up early in the morning to check on the children and use the washroom, and so when I finish doing that I come out on my veranda and I was looking out when I hear one of them guys yelling ‘fire, fire,’ and by the time I rush back inside I heard that my children get up and we run outside,” 46-year-old Angela Demmick recalled.
Demmick said that after she grabbed her three children, a 17-year-old, 14-year-old and 10-year-old, and ran out of the house, she noticed that a fire had erupted from the southern section of the house at Lot 185, which was located one house east of her home.
“By the time we tried to get onto the fire people [Guyana Fire Service] the house didn’t catch a fire yet, but by the time they reach, the building was already burned down and the fire move to the one on the left, and then the one on the right, and it kept coming and coming, and I try to save my things but only my children birth papers I get, nothing else,” a visibly upset Demmick recalled, as she stood facing the remains of the houses.
Demmick said that she was shocked that such a small fire which had erupted one house away, burned out of control and eventually destroyed three other homes. Demmick is currently staying at her neighbour’s home and says that she is waiting to figure out what her next step is, since she lost millions in the fire, including all her personal documents among other important things.
Sixty-nine-year-old Janet Brown also recalled seeing a small fire under the stairs at the back of the house, prior to the house bursting into flames. She explained that during the commotion she heard persons making noise and shouting, but she first thought it was a scene between police and residents. However, she said her worst fears were confirmed after she “peep outside.”
“I go at the back to pee and I see the fire crawling under the step and going up, so I go to me brother room and I seh ‘Brian fire, Marlon fire’. So after I start hearing what going on and I start calling he, me brother ask me if I got on clothes and I say yes and he told me to go down the steps and outside, and that’s how I reach out. I turn back and I see the whole house start ketch fire and I woulda’ never believe it would’ve catch the whole house because it was small and them boys de throwing water on it,” Brown related.
She, along with her relatives, vacated the house and were unable to save anything. They were left helpless on the road and had to watch their home go up in flames.
Despite the efforts of the Guyana Fire Service (GFS), none of the houses was saved. The residents and neighbours related that in their opinion, if they were more organized they could’ve prevented the other houses from burning.
Four fire tenders
The police also confirmed that after receiving a call from a resident, four fire tenders, one from the Central Fire Station, one from the Campbellville Fire Station, one from the Ruimveldt Fire Station and one from the Alberttown Fire Station rushed to the scene. They went into action and managed to extinguish the fire at 5am.
They also related that they were told by Oswald Layne, one of the occupants of the house where the fire started, that he was in his house and had left to go to the toilet when he saw smoke in his apartment. He subsequently raised an alarm before the fire engulfed the entire building and later spread to the others.
“They went in the other street and didn’t know where the fire was. One of the tender bruk down, one ain’t had water and another had little bit water. By the time they reach the house where the fire start it de already almost bun down and a next one on the right de catching. I tell the guy [Fireman] save this [his] house because it was now ketching and while they fighting with that house, I had to stand up and watch me house burn down. They left me house to bun and tried to save this other one and in the meantime another one [the fourth] start bunning,” Clive Brown related.
Brown explained that in addition to the fire service arriving on the scene almost 30 minutes late, they did not have adequate water to fight the fire. Brown also noted that upon arrival they seemed disorganized and were unsure of how they should tackle the fire which was consuming two of the buildings.
Brown, along with most of the residents, who are now homeless, said that if the GFS had arrived on the scene earlier and with more water, they would have been able to contain the fire to the building it started and would’ve have saved the other three buildings.
From the four homes that were destroyed, the following persons are now homeless: Brown and her relatives: Clive Brown and Orin Craig; 46-year-old Angela Erica Demmick and her three children; Oneeka Jonas and her two children; Marlon Thaman and Lashana Patrick; Layne, Chantel Hinckson and Marlon (last name not given); Sabrina Kissoon and a baby; and Hansraj Manbodh along with five others.
Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally, along with Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Keith Scott, visited the devastated families, this morning. Ally related to the families that the Government will assist them in whatever way they can and promised to return later with relief supplies.
“I realise that four homes have been affected and I want to say to you on behalf of the government that we are extremely sorry for this tragedy. I don’t know why this kind of tragedy following us, but only last week we were in Plaisance, where we had a major fire where 40 people were declared homeless. I want to say to you that government will be of help to you. We are not going to leave you alone,” Ally said.
While she was only able to bring a hamper of clothes to assist the residents, she told them that they would return with relief items including beds and stoves among other things.
Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources Simona Broomes was also present at the fire earlier and accommodated some of the residents who were displaced.
The Guyana Relief Council was also present and some of their representatives were taking the names and other relevant information of the residents and promised that they will assist them in every way that they could.
Anyone willing to assist the families to get back on their feet can reach out to the Ministry of Social Protection or the Guyana Relief Council.