PORT OF SPAIN –– A Belmont woman who lost her home on Saturday has asked why she is paying taxes, claiming that, despite repeated calls to the Fire Service, it took an hour for fire officers to get to the scene.
And when they eventually arrived, the woman and other residents had to shout and tell them that a house was on fire and to ignore the burning bushes.
Salimon Jaggernauth, 30, sat near the ruins of her Layan Hill, Belmont home and told reporters yesterday that she did not want a hamper or a Housing Development Corporation (HDC) house but rather the means to rebuild what is essentially a family home.
She recalled what happened on Saturday: “I was seeing about some dogs and I saw smoke coming from up the road and behind the neighbour’s house was a bamboo patch and it was engulfed in flames and we rendered assistance and threw buckets of water.” She said by that time residents had contacted the Fire Service.
Jaggernauth said she herself was told by the Fire Service operator that an appliance from Chaguanas was on its way.
An appliance arrived and firemen began dousing the bamboo patch, but by that time the flames had spread and leapt past two houses and started burning the bushes in her backyard.
She said she then walked up to the fire officers and told them that the fire had began spreading to people’s homes, but that even when other residents told them, they did not listen.
“I had to walk away and call the Fire Service again and tell them to tell the officers what to do.
“What am I paying taxes for? Honestly, because I have to ask what sort of training goes on there during the day, because I mean, if the authorities are reading this, I would like it that they have a better response time in terms of the fire as it’s the dry season, and they need to have something proper in place,” said Jaggernauth.
She said one of the officers said they were fighting fires all over the place, but “allyuh [the fire officers] sit down and lime because they had to assess the situation . . . . Assess what? Everything burn to the ground.”
She said she was currently constructing her own home at the back of the burnt house and would need some assistance with that. She added that more than seven of them were currently homeless and they would require assistance, both private and public, if possible.
Belmont police are continuing investigations.