Trinidad/Tobago — Bush fires swept through south Trinidad yesterday destroying six homes, livestock and the warehouse of a soft-drink factory leaving millions of dollars in damaged property in its wake.
At about midday, an out of control bush fire ravaged 20 acres of parched land in De Gannes Village, Siparia destroying herds of livestock, timber and several orchards, before spreading to six homes.
Six hours later firefighters had to rush to Otaheite Industrial Estate, the home of SM Jaleel and Company, as another bush fire destroyed the warehouse at the southern end of the soft-drink manufacturer.
Hundreds of employees have been displaced as a result of the fire, Newsday was told.
Up to late last night, firefighters were battling to keep the fire contained to the warehouse.
So far, there have been no reported injuries in either of the fires.
In Siparia, a preliminary report by the investigators stated that 11 persons are homeless after the bush fire razed six homes.
Basdaye Ma Jaikeran, 75, whose house escaped the inferno in Siparia had to be taken by ambulance for medical attention as relatives said she suffered from smoke inhalation.
Jaikeran had remained inside the house as the bush fire raged around it. She was taken out by relatives several hours later. One relative said her house was saved because she always made fire traces as a preventive measure.
According to a police report, at about 11.45 am, a bush fire which was raging in the forested valley in De Gannes Village for the past two days spread to six houses. One of the houses was unoccupied.
Among those made homeless are recently retired police sergeant Harrilal Jaikeran, 56, his wife Molly, 53, along with their four children, three grandchildren and a daughter-in-law.
A still shocked Harrilal told Newsday all the family was left with were the clothes they had on and their two pet dogs, Courage and Popcorn, a pet bird and a baby stroller.
Our losses will run into almost one million dollars, he told Newsday. My son who is building his house. He had $10,000 cash in the house to pay the contractor. We had plenty jewelry, computers and other valuables that were lost.
Harrilal had said thousands of dollars worth of fish, which he began rearing since his retirement last April, have died. His cousin Simon, who lived next door, also lost his home.
Dyanand Harry, 65, a salesman employed with Sincere Foods Limited estimated the damage to his home to be $500,000.
Mark Bissessar, 40, a third generation citrus farmer who cultivated 40 acres of land, reared livestock including sheep told Newsday his losses have also run into millions of dollars.
Ive lost everything, he said. Everything gone. Tyre dealer Eddy Gunness incurred $75,000 in damage to his home.
Firefighters were hampered by poor visibility due to the heavy smoke and low water supply.
A senior official said poor outdoor housekeeping also contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.