Tue | May 30, 2023

Post-Christmas joy turns to sorrow

Fire destroys house leaving family of nine with nothing

Published:Tuesday | December 28, 2021 | 12:11 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
What remains after fire gutted a five apartment building in Silent Hill Manchester on Sunday, leaving 9 persons homeless.
What remains after fire gutted a five apartment building in Silent Hill Manchester on Sunday, leaving 9 persons homeless.

Silent Hill, Manchester

When Novelette Gayle made the financial sacrifice to expand her family home in the Silent Hill community of Manchester by adding a kitchen to the building, just ahead of the Christmas season, she had no idea that she would have lost everything in a fire just days later.

The 49-year-old who, along with some of her siblings, children and grandchildren, occupied the family home for years, having inherited it from her own parents, said everything they worked to acquire seemed to have vanished within minutes on Sunday.

“I wasn’t home at the time the fire started. Some minutes to 9 p.m. my daughter was there lying in her room with her baby, but she said she didn’t smell anything burning ... . When she looked over the door jamb she saw smoke coming from the next room.”

Gayle said her son, who was standing on the outside, was alerted to the smoke and quickly rushed inside.

“Just as he went in and pulled away a settee in the room where the smoke was coming from, there was an explosion with an empty (gas) cylinder,” she said.

Gayle said her son quickly grabbed a baby who was asleep in the house and gathered the others to escape what could have been a fatal fire.

“The place just start burn and everything was lost, but thank God my children, siblings, in-laws and grandchildren were outside... It’s just the granddaughter of my brother’s wife that got a little burn on her leg... .”

According to Deputy Superintendent at the Mandeville Fire Station, Rohan Powell, the fire, which has left nine persons homeless, had completely ravaged the five-apartment building by the time firefighters arrived.

“We received a call approximately 9:25 p.m. We were able to contain the fire to a point and cool down what was already damaged. The estimated loss is valued at approximately $12 million,” Powell said.

The deputy fire chief said they have yet to determine the cause of the fire owing to the extent of the damage.

Gayle told The Gleaner that the structure of the house was mainly concrete, with sections of the floor and her new kitchen made of board.

“I did some refurbishing and used plyboard to build on my kitchen because I didn’t have the space for it. I put in my little sink and everything and all of that gone to dust. My documents, my identification cards, sewing machine, my deep freeze, my brother’s deep freeze and standing fridge, tables, beds, and my nephew who is in grade 7 at Christiana High lost his tablet also. Nothing at all, but the clothes we had on, was saved,” Gayle added.

She said the displaced family members, with the youngest being three weeks old, have since sought temporary shelter with other relatives across the parish.

Her ideal, however, is to rebuild her home as soon as it is possible.

To assist the family, you may contact Novelette Gayle at 876-806-3414.