Fire leaves 16 homeless

House, bar, shop gutted in downtown Kingston

Observer staff reporter

Friday, September 14, 2018

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A mother and her three children are among 16 people now homeless after fire destroyed their house, a shop, and a bar at the intersection of Duke and Sutton streets in downtown Kingston yesterday.

The mother, Nickeira Brown, who was about to take her three-year-old daughter to school when she heard a sound like sparks being emitted, said the only thing she managed to save was a copy of her birth certificate.

“Mi run guh bring mi baby go put down over the school, and run come back over and say, 'Mi bredda, fire! Fire! Fire upstairs!' When wi run go upstairs my cousin's room already burnt out. The only thing I could do is run go back downstairs and grab my birth paper,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer.

No one was injured in the blaze.

Brown's cousin, Tavisha Falconer, who rushed to the scene hoping to save her belongings, told the Observer that she was at work when she got a call that her house was on fire.

“When mi reach, everything burn down to the ground. Nothing mi nuh save, nothing. Mi bed, mi dresser, everything bun up. Mi aunty nuh save nothing,” Falconer explained.

Like Falconer, Anthony Brown was not home when the fire started.

“Me nuh save nothing at all, more than what you see me in,” he said.

Jamaica Fire Brigade Superintendent Andrew Russell told the Observer that the fire brigade responded to a call at 8:13 am that the buildings were on fire.

When the firefighters arrived at 72 Duke Street, two houses, a printer shop, a bar, and a snack shop were seen engulfed in flames, Superintendent Russell said.

A total of six units from York Park, Half-Way-Tree and Trench Town fire stations extinguished the blaze.

According to Superintendent Russell, it took 35 firefighters one hour to bring the blaze under control.

“At this time we are unable to say the cause of the fire because we have not yet commenced investigation and we are also unable to determine how much was damaged because we have not yet completed an assessment of the affected area,” Russell explained.

In the meantime, classes at the neighbouring St Aloysius Primary School were suspended.

The school was affected by smoke and heat, which damaged some of its windows that fell from the first floor of the building on to Sutton Street.

Senior grade six teacher Kisha Goulbourne told the Observer that they were in the middle of assembly when they noticed smoke about 7:45 am.

“We took every single child off the compound because we know that some children are asthmatic,” Goulbourne said, adding that some students panicked when they saw the smoke and the fire.

The parents were subsequently contacted to pick up their children.

“We have an SMS (short message service) system where we sent out a text message to every single parent whose number we have on file... the parents who cannot make it in, we will keep those children with us because we don't leave here until the last child leaves,” the teacher said.

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