KINGSTON – An 85-year-old woman was killed and at least six others admitted to hospital after a fire razed a three-storey house on Slipdock Road in east Kingston four hours after the community had welcomed the New Year and had gone to bed.
The dead woman was identified as Corrine Morrison, who residents said was bedridden and stranded on the second floor of the three-storey tenement that they said housed about 60 persons.
The board-and-concrete building was not insured, and except for a few items of clothing, a bed, a washing machine, and a microwave strewn on the roadway, it appeared that the residents saved little from the blaze.
The origin of the fire was not clear yesterday afternoon, but the police reported that up to 24 firefighters turned up to quell it.
Morrison’s granddaughter, Theresa Williams, said that men tried to save her relative but that their attempt was foiled by smoke.
“Them go in there to go take her out, but when they went inside, the smoke was just too heavy,” she bemoaned, teary-eyed, yesterday.
Williams said that she ran from her apartment on the first floor and screamed in grief as the rescuers emerged from the smoke without her grandmother. The charred body was removed at daybreak.
Kenardo Robinson said that he was in the right spot when a three-year-old child who was being rescued from the third floor fell into his arms.
“The mother was trying to rescue her baby first, and somebody came with a ladder to assist her. Same time the baby slip out of her hand, drop into somebody hand on the second floor, and a head for the road. A so come me see what a go on and catch the baby,” he said, with cuts and bruises as proof of several similar rescues.
Among the injured are a woman who reportedly broke her leg in three separate places after jumping from the building and a young child, who residents said was left unconscious by the smoke.
Other persons sustained cuts and bruises as they made their escape down steep stairs of raging flames, while people were injured as they attempted to rescue trapped victims, among them children, who had to be flung from the building to safety.
Mark Brown did not hesitate when he had to drop his two children, ages two and five, from the second floor.
“Me start throw water, but the water come in like it was kerosene oil. Me have to run out leave everything with my youth dem and throw them downstairs. People downstairs had to catch them,” he said, clutching the traumatized children and their mother, Tenice Pink, who suffered injuries to one of her legs.
Shelley Deleon, another resident who had
to jump from the building to safety, had cuts all over her feet, while Rollen Nelson,
another elderly resident, barely escaped with his life.
“Me lose two weed whackers that me use to make a living. Me lose me TV, me fridge, everything. Is somebody give me this shirt to put on,” said Nelson, who had earlier returned home from church and was sleeping when he was alerted to the blaze.
“All I hear was ‘Fire! Fire! Fire!’ and by the time me get up, the light gone and the place dark, so I couldn’t even see in my room. Then me just feel the heat just start come in pon me,” continued Nelson.