Fire leaves families homeless

Fire leaves families homeless

16 March 2011

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Bahamas — At least 45 people were displaced yesterday by a fire in Ferguson Subdivision, off Carmichael Road, that completely consumed three houses and damaged another three.

A house surrounded by the blaze was saved by the efforts of several men who, while firemen fought the fire behind them and at either side of them, continually doused the home with buckets of water.

Police Inspector Kenrick Morris, who is attached to the fire services division, said the fire began as a small brush fire and grew to consume the houses in the area by the time fire units arrived.

He added that while there is not a fire hydrant in that area, several fire trucks ferried water from a hydrant on Golden Isles Road and so “water was not a problem out there today.”

However, residents claimed when firefighters came after they made their initial call, the fire was small and contained. But they contend the firemen did not come prepared to fight even that small fire. They claimed firemen told them their truck had no water.

One area worker said as they waited for other units to arrive, the fire grew out of control in a matter of seconds.

“We could have put that (initial fire) out ourselves with buckets,” one resident shouted.

The wind in the area helped to rapidly spread the fire as it blew hot cinders and ash onto surrounding homes and bushes.

Even brush across the street from the fire was ablaze. As bushes smoldered in a neighbor’s backyard, some concerned citizens knocked on the door of the elderly neighbor to warn her.

Others whose homes were downwind of the fire frantically wet their roofs so that no ash or cinders would set their property ablaze. One man with a two-storey structure rigged a bucket and rope combination to haul water from the ground to his roof.

When the fire that tore through the homes was contained, firefighters had to turn their attention to the bushes behind where those homes once stood, where another fire raged on.

However, Peter Roker, owner of Bargain City Plaza, had already sent a backhoe into those bushes directly behind his lumber yard and gas station. The backhoe driver created a fire break with dirt and bush, which retarded the spread of the flames.

When the flames subsided eight families were left without a roof over there heads and had lost possessions.

Andre Dean, who said his home was burned to the ground, said he had just completed building the structure and was preparing to move in with his wife and their child.

“When my wife called me back in a minute’s time, she [said] my house [is] falling down,” said Dean, adding that he did not know where he and his family would go.

Minister of Labour and Social Development Dion Foulkes, and Member of Parliament for the area, Charles Maynard, were on the scene of the fire shortly after the blaze was extinguished.

Foulkes said they offered the displaced families shelter, clothing and food for one week, until their situation could be assessed.

Maynard said he and Foulkes were happy they could assist the families.

“It was a tremendous tragedy,” he said. “A lot of them would have lost everything and they were all young families really. We were happy to be able to bring some assistance to them while they make long terms arrangements.”

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