A fire which raged out of control is said to have destroyed the dwelling of one extended family in Lowmans Windward last Monday morning. The victims, a branch of the Barnwell family that populates the Higher Lowmans area, comprise several school aged children including at least one SVG Community College student.
According to the information reaching us, “apparently, the fire was lit at the back of the house to burn garbage.” Shortly after 10 a.m. the wooden house that was home to “three young adult mothers” – all of whom are sisters – and their combined seven children was gutted by furious flames which were visible for miles around.
Senator Israel Bruce, the New Democratic Party’s candidate for the South Central Windward constituency in which these latest fire victims reside, visited the scene and told us he could not confirm or deny what caused the fire. He said, “I truly cannot answer your question as to what caused it. The truth is the moment I got the information, I was in Court in Georgetown, I left for the location in Lowmans Wd. and when I saw the devastation my focus was ‘how can I help these people with the immediate needs that they have?’
“So I didn’t spend a moment trying to figure out how it got started. What is important for me is that nobody got injured or harmed as a result of the fire. I know that there are 3 girls and 4 boys in the home, the oldest girl is 17 and she goes to the A’ Level College and there are two Form 1 boys in the home.”
According to reports, Senator Bruce secured some immediate relief for his constituents in “some parts cash and some parts materials to help them peddle over the next couple of nights.” A quick chat with the Opposition lawmaker confirmed that he was able to get some of the necessities that would help the Barnwells weather the early days of this tragedy.
“I spent all-day there yesterday [May 11] into the evening ensuring that they got a tremendous amount of assistance. And I’m still doing what I can to roll in some assistance for them.” As such some of the clothing, bedding materials and toiletries that were destroyed were replaced through his intervention.
Reports reaching us claim that area Member of Parliament Minister Saboto Caesar put in an, albeit, brief appearance at the scene. He told us, “I was at an agriculture station in Langley Park when I heard about the incident and I reached out to the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of National Security who would be addressing the issue forthrightly.”
He also informed us that Monday’s incident brought to 3 the total number of homes destroyed by fire in the course of one month; the other two were in Diamonds village. “All the relevant information was taken from all the residents and we would be working with the Ministry of Housing to assist them. I am aware up to this morning [May 12] the Permanent Secretary from the Ministry of Social Development was in touch with the senior members of the family whose home was burnt yesterday.
“The students in the home would be assisted in terms of getting back their books; I have all the information on the passports that was destroyed – the Ministry of National Security would be dealing with that and we are being very forthright with how we are going to address the matter. In the meantime family members are staying with relatives.”
As to the brief time he spent on location, we sought some clarity as to the pressing engagements that may have commandeered MP Caesar’s attention elsewhere his cryptic response was, “I do not play partisan politics when I’m helping people in need.”
Asberth News Network understands that fire fighters were on the scene but were impotent against the blaze that wreaked havoc on the house which was “not too long ago” built through a government outreach project. One source confirmed, “they [fire fighters] could not do anything because it was a long way up with the hose and they had to walk up the [embankment] and they just could not come up. It [the house] was already flat.”
Senator Bruce, who committed his time and efforts to helping the affected family, also took time to note that the topography plus lack of appropriate fire hydrant infrastructure conspired against the best efforts of the local fire service.
He said, “the fact is you have to consider every place likely to have the possibility of a fire – but in these areas like the area where we had that fire, where there are no fire hydrants then the police officers in the fire department, their hands are tied. If there was [any hydrant] then they could have simply gone and connected their hoses and tried to assist because as far as I understand they got on the scene.
“As I say this I’m not trying to apportion any blame because I am not mixing politics with the disaster. At the end of the day what I see first is humanity so my first port of call is to reach out; there’s an immediate need so I reach out immediately to try to get to persons the help that they so need. If persons see because as a politician I’m the one reaching out and they want to say it is politics then that’s unfortunate but I see it as my duty to do something.”
One member of the family, under conditions of anonymity, told us that she did not know what ignited the ferocious blaze while sharing her gratitude for the outpouring of community based support. “We’ve been getting help from people. A lot of donations, calls – a lot of support from everyone and we’re very grateful for that.
“We were outside cleaning up the garden to make a road and I was playing with my nephew and when my sister turned around she said she saw something orange and she used an explicit and said fire! We ran inside the house with pots trying to out the fire but the house was filled with smoke so we just came back outside. The guys [on the block] came and tried to out the fire but it was too late because the wind was too high.”