St Lucy resident Lecia Francis Monday revisited last Saturday’s fire which took the life of her cousin Nigel Corbin, wondering whether there was anything she could have done differently.
The 59-year-old Corbin received third degree burns when a fire gutted his #2 Broomfield, St Lucy home, and died early Sunday morning at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Francis, who was Corbin’s caregiver, said things happened at such dizzying speed that she was still trying to make sense of it.
Yet, because she felt powerless to help, she sometimes blames herself for her cousin’s death.
“I smelt smoke, I look through the window, I thought my neighbour was burning stuff, but it wasn’t. So I went back doing what I had to do. But I kept smelling the smoke. Then when I went outside, the second bedroom of his house, I saw the flames coming through the window. So before I could figure out what was happening, I went out and a big crowd was there and I said to them, ‘Nigel is inside there’, and few of the guys tried to make it but it was so smoky, dark and hot they couldn’t get in; two turned back but two wet themselves with water and went in and got him,” Francis told Barbados TODAY, while shaking her head in disbelief.
“I really don’t know what happened. He usually comes over by me every Saturday morning and relax with me. But I does tell him don’t come too early. I would bathe him, give him something to eat, and he would spend the whole day with me. But Saturday was so unfortunate. I blame myself sometimes. I was saying to myself I should have gone to see if he was up and was alright.”
Francis said her cousin was “a wonderful man who was loved by all”, but who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and an undiagnosed disability, which slowed him down considerably. It was this disability, she concluded, that impacted his mobility so badly that he was trapped in a burning inferno.
“He was always slow. But he is not foolish. One of his senses like it never developed properly. He moves around very slow. So it wasn’t enough to get out of the heat,” Francis said.
“I feel very sad for Nigel. He was not only my cousin, he was my friend. We had our good moments together. It’s real sad and I would miss him. On evenings when I come from work he would be there by the neighbour and I would shout him and tell him I’m going home and he would come with me. We would sit and watch TV and he would tell me certain things that went on during the day. He was no fool. Anything that came over TV he could tell you.”
The sorrowful cousin praised the neighbours who risked their lives in an attempt to save Corbin’s, suggesting they were all heroes.
She was also thankful that none of the other four occupants of the house was home at the time of the blaze.
“In everything you must give God thanks. It could have been worse if the others were there,” she said.
Police are continuing investigations into the incident.