KINGSTON –– Two months after her mother died in a fire on West Street in downtown Kingston, Carleen Aird’s daughter was yesterday left homeless after fire gutted the premises on which she lives.
Aird is now of the view that her family is plagued by fire.
Yesterday’s fire, which gutted several dwellings and business places at the intersection of Beeston Street and King Street in downtown Kingston, left 28 people homeless.
“Mi mother dead in a fire January 19, and mi daughter them weh lose her things, them a stay with she and her things dem burn up again. What kind of tribulation this on our family,” Aird cried.
“Mi just bury mi mother and a me one bury mi mother. What am I going to do for my daughter weh nuh save nothing? Mi daughter nuh get to save nothing, nothing at all,” Aird said.
The premises where the fire started is said to be a business place that houses several shops, including a liquor store, hairdressing parlour, restaurant, and a clothes store.
Two units from the York Park Fire Station as well as one each from Trench Town, Rollington Town and Half-Way-Tree fire stations put out the blaze.
According to Assistant Superintendent Dennis Lyon of York Park Fire Station, the fire brigade responded to a call at 8:19 a.m. after people saw smoke coming from the building and raised an alarm.
However, when they arrived at the scene, the buildings were already engulfed.
Aird’s daughter Latoya Waldron, who rushed to the scene hoping to save her belongings, told the Observer that she was at work when she got a call that her house was on fire. She had to be consoled.
Like Waldron, Marion Clarke, who plies her trade in the market district, said she was not at home when the fire started.
“Mi leff out bout 6 a.m. with a little bag say mi ago sell some [things] and then mi see the smoke and come up here. A shoes polish and rags mi sell. Me only have the clothes on mi back,” Clarke said as she fought to hold back tears.
Susan Wright, who is a client relationship officer at an insurance broker in Kingston and whose mother is the operator of the restaurant, said earnings from the restaurant sent her through school.
Wright, who was seemingly frustrated, claimed that if the fire trucks had arrived earlier, some of the appliances would have been saved.
But Superintendent Lyon denied Wright’s claims, saying he saw the smoke from York Park and once the call was received, units were dispatched.
“Once we got here we asked [National] Water Commission to boost the water pressure in the area and we were assisted by a hydrant on King Street, and one on the other street,” Lyon explained.
Sophia Ricketts, who has been operating a wholesale and a bar on the premises, said she lost thousands of dollar as a result of the fire.
“Is yesterday I stock out the shop. The liquor in the bar, two snow cone machines, and popcorn machine weh mi woulda rent when people have party. Mi lose everything,” the mother of four said, adding that the business is her only livelihood.
Mayor of Kingston Senator Delroy Williams, during a visit to the scene of the fire yesterday, said the process to assist the residents has already started.
“We have the normal procedure, persons from the Poor Relief Department are here and we will be in consultation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to render what assistance we can,” Williams said.