Pregnant woman one of 14 left homeless after blaze

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, April 14, 2018

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A pregnant woman is among 14 people who were left homeless after fire destroyed seven homes at lower First Street in Trench Town, Kingston, late Thursday.

Kemeisha Dunn, who is four months away from bringing her child into the world, told the Jamaica Observer that she was at her mother's home when she was informed of the fire.

“Mi hear somebody run out and a say, 'Fire, fire'. Mi ran come down and mi see di fire, and I ran go down by the fire station but all we down there a call them, them a take long to come.

“We a call them a say, 'Come, come nuh! Mi house a burn down'. Dem take a while,” Dunn recounted while lying on a bed inside her yard yesterday. “To me, if dem did come little faster the place dem wouldn't burn down, you understand. Even though is not all of the houses burn down, the rest a people them wouldn't lose everything.”

The 34-year-old, who was preparing for her fourth child, said she only managed to save a few items. She told the Observer that her children lost all their school items in the blaze.

“When them finally come and start [put] out the [fire], the water finish. So they had to call elsewhere.

“Even though mi save some things, the things dem mi save when dem throw dem out, dem mash up. A just the bed alone alright,” Dunn continued.

“Mi affi give God thanks [because] once there is life, there is hope,” Dunn said.

No one was injured in the blaze.

Another resident, Mario Freeman, who had a similar experience in 2013, told the Observer that he was watching television when the fire started.

“This is my second fire. Second burn-out mi get now. Mi deh in here a watch football pon mi TV in a di corner deh so, mi TV deh right yah so. Mi see di light dim so mi get up and plug out mi thing dem, [except] the TV [that was] showing clean and pretty same way.

“Mi see the light come up back and then mi say, 'Alright'. It dim again so mi say, 'Something wrong'. Anyway, mi see it come up so me say, 'A probably somebody a hook up something pon the thing'. Mi hear man and woman a cuss … mi hear the noise more now, so when me step out and look up deh so, mi see fire. A run mi run out go fire station,” Freeman reasoned, adding that, shortly after, the firefighters arrived on the scene.

Fifteen-year-old Troy Campbell, a student of Clan Carthy High School, said he, too, was watching television when the fire started.

Campbell, who said he ran outside immediately, pointed out that he was only able to save the clothes on his back.

Like Dunn, Freeman said the truck did not have adequate water to contain the blaze.

Superintendent Kevin Haughton from the Jamaica Fire Brigade told the Observer yesterday that, initially, firefighters from the Trench Town Fire Station responded to a call at 6:52 pm that the dwellings were on fire.

He said additional units from York Park and Rollington Town were also summoned.

According to the superintendent, the firefighters took about 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

In the meantime, Councillor Neville Wright (PNP, Trench Town Division), who was visiting the fire victims when the Observer visited the area yesterday, said he's in dialogue with a number of agencies that he is hoping will assist the residents.

“As to the longer-term plan, I am in touch with the town clerk, Mr Robert Hill. He has committed to giving some urgent attention to what's happening here. The property here belongs to the KSAMC (Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation), and so we are going to try and work on a similar arrangement that we made with another area in the community, to look at a lease and then we can engage Food For the Poor,” Wright said.

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