A Sisters, West Bank Demerara family lost their home on Wednesday night when a fire, started by one of the three children who had been left unsupervised at the property, reduced it to ashes.
The fire, which was started sometime between 8.45 pm and 9 pm at the Lot 250 Sisters Village, West Bank Demerara property, destroyed the three-bedroom home of Wilfred Duncan and his family.
The one-flat wooden building went up in flames in a matter of minutes and threatened a neighbouring home, forcing neighbours to form a bucket brigade and soak the house in a bid to prevent it from catching on fire.
Fire Chief Marlon Gentle yesterday told Stabroek News that based on investigations, it was revealed that one of the three children was using a lighter to light a lamp when it dropped on a mattress, resulting in the blaze.
At the time of the fire, neighbours told this publication that the children, ages seven, six and four, were home alone.
Gentle added that upon receiving a report, the La Grange fire tender responded and battled the fire.
Stabroek News yesterday visited the scene, where a neighbour was seen cleaning up her home in the aftermath of the fire, while the affected family was still trying to come to grips with their loss.
“We have nowhere to go. After the fire last night, we stayed up till day clean and now we are just here with family and friends… we lost everything, my working tools, clothing, documents, furniture everything gone,” were the words of Nickasee Duncan, one of the occupants of the home.
The young man explained that when the fire started he was at the airport. “I don’t know what happened. I left the children sleeping. I gave them their dinner before I left and they had gone to bed. An uncle was left home with them… when I came home back everything was gone, [and] the house was already burnt to the ground,” he said.
A neighbour said the uncle who was left to care for the children stepped out briefly from the home and was returning home when he noticed the fire.
An eyewitness who resides close by told this publication that she was alerted about the fire shortly after 9 pm by her cousin.
“The cousin called out and said fire in the house next door and we come out and stand on the verandah but the heat was too much, we had to go out on the road,” the woman, who asked not to be named, said.
She explained that they quickly located the children and brought them out of the house.
The neighbour added that as the heat became intense, windows along the bottom flat of her home began to break and the electrical connection started to spark.
“The neighbours formed a bucket brigade and took water from the trench and started to soak my house because the fire was getting big. We had to do something to save my house,” she said.
The woman noted that her property sustained major water damage and she was forced to rip out her carpet during her cleaning up.
Touching on the performance of the Guyana Fire Service, the woman said they did an exceptional job. However, she did bemoan the fact that the fire tender had to make close to three trips to refill the fire tender when its water supply was exhausted.
“We didn’t have anywhere here for them to source the water, so they had to be back and forth. But they worked to out the fire,” the woman emphasised.
As a result of the tragedy, she and others in the community called for hydrants to be installed in order to ensure fire fighters have access to water if there is need to fight a fire.
They noted that with the closure of the Wales estate, the Guyana Sugar Corporation fire tender that would respond to fires in neighbouring communities is no longer available.
The affected family is willing to accept any assistance from the public to rebuild and persons desirous of assisting the family can make contact on telephone numbers 699-1611, 683-9137, and 267-1.