Backyard Fire Destroyed Homes

Backyard Fire Destroyed Homes

17 March 2011

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Bahamas — On a daily basis, Bahamians can smell the ashes burning through the air, hear the crackling of items being demolished by back yard fires that many people have become accustomed to starting, and according to fire officials they believe that a similar backyard fire was the spark that started Tuesday’s fire.

Superintendent Jeffery Deleveaux said according to preliminary investigations, it appears someone was burning garbage in the backyard and left it unattended.

“The fire really started as the result of a bush fire that was indiscriminately set by persons unknown,” he said. “As a result it spread to those structures that were destroyed, and that’s what happened.

“They were just burning some stuff in the back in the bushy area and the fire caught the bush and the strong wind blew it across the area igniting those structures.”

He added that although it happens just about every day police officials said starting those bush fires are illegal and only the commissioner of police can give anyone permission to do so.

Forty-seven people, all from one family, are homeless after the fire devoured their homes that once stood on their generational plot.

Since then, government officials have moved to house them at the Corner Motel on Faith Avenue.

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes told the Bahama Journal that it is costing the government $330 per week for each of the rooms they are renting.

On Wednesday, the Journal revisited the site and found some of the displaced residents assessing the damage and rummaging through the debris for whatever they could salvage.

Also on the scene were officials from the Department of Social Services.

“We came back to the site because some persons lost everything but some just suffered smoke and water damage,” Kim Sawyer of the Social Services Department said.

“So we just came to verify and to get a second look to see who suffered minor damages and to see what assistance we would render to them.”

Kenneth Williams, one of the displaced residents, said going back to the site of the devastation still pains him.

“It’s the next day but it still feels the same,” he said. “It’s a tragedy. We didn’t save anything, not a Christ thing, it’s a disaster that took place and there’s nothing we can do.”

According to government officials, the hotel housing is a temporary measure adding that the average length of time they have housed displaced families was up to four weeks.

Should anyone question why the same was not done after those Haitian shantytowns were burned down, Minister Foulkes said under any circumstances Social Services benefits cannot be issued for non-Bahamians.

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