Infant girls perish as fire razes Clarendon home
“God, why You give me them and tek them back just so?” a grief-stricken Micey Walters asked amid a flood of tears yesterday after her infant daughters – Kayla, 4, and Abigail, 3 – perished in a fire that gutted their Clarendon home.
“God, a wah mi do?” the 27-year-old mom further asked near the charred rubble of her ill-fated two-bedroom dwelling in Haylesfield district in Race Course, Clarendon.
Walters told The Gleaner that her children, who attended the Race Course Primary and Infant School but had been staying home since Monday because they had contracted the flu, were not usually left home alone.
On Thursday morning, however, she went next door to take food to their father, who was working at a neighbour’s home.
“Mi never gone fi more than five minutes,” the tearful Walters said as neighbours and relatives consoled her on her return from the Lionel Town Hospital, where she had been taken for medical attention as she reeled from the shock of losing two of her three children so tragically.
Owen Tomlinson, father of the children, also wept uncontrollably, recalling his valiant efforts to try and rescue his children from the blaze.
The fisherman, who also burns coals for a living and undertakes odd jobs to earn a living, told The Gleaner that his children were his motivation for all his hard work, adding that he shared a close bond with his girls.
“When mi work, mi try put dem school money one side ‘cause mi never go school. All two, three day mi deh a sea a fight fi mi pickney dem,” he said.
“Them nuh lef’ me. Everywhere me a go, a me and dem – one pon mi back, one pon mi side; a so mi carry dem,” he said as tears streamed down his face.
Today will be especially difficult, he said, telling The Gleaner that Fridays were special for the children, who would greet him excitedly and enquire about goodies he had brought home for them.
Yesterday, residents of Haylesfield said that the tragedy was compounded by what they labelled as shoddy work by the funeral home and police personnel, who visited the scene earlier.
They complained that some of the children’s remains had been left at the scene and were attracting dogs.
What appeared to be the charred remains of a leg were seen by The Gleaner.
The police were again summoned and the remains removed.
Tash-Marie Walters, an aunt of the deceased children who also lived at the house, said she was alerted to the impending disaster by shouts of “Fire! Fire!” by her three-year-old son.
Efforts to save the young girls proved unsuccessful.
Another relative, Kerry-Ann Graham, said the parents were both attentive.
“ ... They are very caring parents. I don’t really see the mother and don’t see the children,” she said as she shared that there were times the mother would go to her shop accompanied by the children.
Graham said that she once asked their mother why she always took them wherever she went, and she replied, “Kerry, mi caan lef’ dem ‘cause mi nuh want nutten do dem,” she related.
Describing their Tomlinson as a hard-working father.
‘’When it comes on to making sacrifices for his children, there is nothing that he would not do,” she said, stressing that it was a hard blow for the family
Deputy Superintendent Dennis Lyons of the Clarendon Division of the Jamaica Fire Brigade told The Gleaner that his team responded to the fire around 11:04 a.m., but had not yet determined the cause of the fire.