PORT OF SPAIN — An 83-year-old woman and her five-year-old neighbour whom she was babysitting yesterday died in a fire that destroyed the woman’s house in Prizgar Lands, Laventille.
Both residents and fire officials are of the opinion that had there been a more efficient supply of pipe-borne water in the community, the tragedy could have been prevented.
The death of Joyce Mother Joyce Edwards and little Akeil Motar brought together members from different parts of the community yesterday as they mourned the passing of the “two loving souls” as they were described.
Edwards’ body was found in one of the bedrooms of her Assang Road home while the boy was found crouched inside a cupboard. Both most likely died from smoke inhalation, fire officers said.
The blaze started around 12:30 p.m.
Edwards’ grandson Adrian recalled what happened: “People just saw black smoke coming from the roof of house, and she (Edwards) was screaming.
“All of the fellas in the area tried to open the burglar proofing but they could not. Eventually, when they were able to open another window, there was just fire and smoke all over.
“Then the screaming stopped and that was it.”
As word of the tragedy spread, more residents arrived on the scene.
Around 2 p.m., one of Edwards’ daughters, Paula Huggins, arrived. The sobbing woman was held and supported by other relatives.
Shortly after, Motar’s mother, Akiba King, showed up. She had to be held by fire officers as grief and disbelief engulfed her. She did not stop to speak with members of the media.
Residents explained that Edwards was babysitting the boy at the time the fire occurred.
They said Motar was staying at the elderly woman’s home for the day as there were no classes at his preschool. He lived next door to her, and she would usually care for him whenever his parents were not around, they said.
This was not unusual as Edwards cared for many in the community during their growing years, they said.
“I don’t think there is a single person around here that she did not discipline when they were children, said one woman. (Express)