Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Fire victims blame abandoned cars for losing everything

Published:Monday | February 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMDanae Hyman/Gleaner Writer
Two young girls look on as members of the James Town community in Kencot, St Andrew, clear debris from the fire-gutted area where 15 homes once stood. More than 30 people were left homeless.
Donette Campbell, one of the James Town fire victims.
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Residents of James Town in Kencot, St Andrew, whose homes were destroyed in a massive blaze on Friday afternoon, lamented that they might have saved some of their belongings had old abandoned cars blocking the pathway not hindered firefighters.

According to some of the victims, firefighters were unable to gain quick access to the back of the community, where their homes were located.

“To be honest, if a never fi dem ol’ car deh, the fire truck would reach up long time. A long time wi a talk bout it, but nobody nah mek nuh effort. Dem need fi come scrape dem up,” Donnette Campbell, one of the residents who lost her home, told The Gleaner on Saturday.

The Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation is responsible for imposing sanctions for the abandonment of old vehicles.

More than 30 people were left homeless after the fire destroyed 15 compartments and damaged five.

Residents sat dejected in the community on Saturday morning, staring at the spot where the houses once stood. They said that had it not been for quick thinking in detaching gas cylinders, the blaze would have been much bigger, and the entire compound might have gone up in smoke.

The cause of the fire, which engulfed the houses at approximately 2:15 p.m., is still unknown.

The forlorn residents are appealing for help to rebuild their lives.

“We don’t want no money. We want food, clothes, shoes, and stuff for the children,” Campbell said.

“We just want immediate things right now and then anything to help build back after, but fi right now, we don’t have anything. What me have on is somebody give me to wear.”

A representative from the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, which distributes state welfare, visited the community on the morning after the fire to collect the names of the affected persons and organise assistance.

Also offering help in the clean-up effort were employees of the Liguanea Club as a co-worker’s home was among those destroyed.

“That’s how we build each other. No one gets left behind,” Fabian Malcolm, one of the employees, said.

danae.hyman@gleanerjm.com