(Trinidad Express) Just days before Christmas, five families have been left homeless after fire destroyed their homes at a squatting village in Couva on Friday.

The fire started in an unoccupied house at Concerned Citizens Street, California, at around 5pm.

The house was frequented by homeless people, investigators said.

The families have been separated and everything they owned went up in flames.

Homeowner, Kiel Williams, said he was driving to the San Fernando General Hospital with his nine-month pregnant wife, Nisa Harry, when he received a call that his home was on fire.

The couple’s nine-year-old autistic daughter, Nakiya, was at the babysitter.

The scene of the fire

Williams said, “I dropped off my wife to have the baby and turn around and went back. But when I got there the house was already destroyed. We bought everything for the baby – crib, clothes, diapers….everything. And we lost everything my older daughter had, all her educational things and medication and everything.”

Williams said he was uncertain as to where his family would spend the holidays. “Right now I am looking for a place for my children. When my wife gets out of the hospital I have nowhere to take them,” he said.

Another homeowner, Anderson Ashton, said she was at work at the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation when he received the news.

“I ran home to find all the houses on fire. All the families are related. We tried to out the blaze but it was too much. We lost everything. I bought $1,200 in groceries for Christmas and three tablets for my children’s Christmas presents. I lost everything,” he said.

Ashton’s three children – Anderson Jr, 12, Anton, 10, and Annalisa, five – were at home when the fire spread to their home.

Ashton, 50, said the fire started at an unoccupied house next door. “It looked like someone went there to smoke and left something lighting. That house caught fire and it spread to my house and my sisters’ houses,” he said.

The third house was owned by Velda Cadette. The house was occupied by Cadette’s son, 40-year-old Kareem, his wife, Kay Hope, and their children – Angie, 19, Antonio, 15, and Kareem Jr., five.

The fourth house was occupied by Brenda Noel, her husband, Terrence, their daughter, 23-year-old Kafiya and her children – Jamaria Delandro, four, and Jeremiah Blades, three.

Pensioner Herbett Noel lived in the fifth house.

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