A family of eight watched in horror as their four-bedroom timber and concrete home burned to the ground Friday morning.
Esther Clarke, 67, was in disbelief, her sister Cecile Clarke visibly shaken as they looked on at the charred remains of their childhood home at Brathwaite’s Road, Sion Hill, St James.
The wall and some rooms of the house next door were also damaged.
The family followed their morning routine, with youngest, a seven-year-old getting ready for school at Gordon Greenidge Primary while eldest Esther started her chores.
It was sister Cecile’s screams that raised the alarm of a bedroom on fire.
“I went and I had a shower, dry my skin in my bedroom, left my towel on top of my bed, went out in the front . . . and I come back and my sister told me my bedroom burning. I didn’t leave nothing in the bedroom burning,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“I said, ‘how you mean burning, I ain’t got nothing in there to light,’” she added.
The retiree fled her blazing home with only a toothbrush and the clothes on her back. As the family rushed out of the house, her son Leon Clarke was hit by a burning piece of lumber. He sustained injuries to his hands and was immediately transported to Sandy Crest Medical Centre to receive treatment.
Esther Clarke told Barbados TODAY she was baffled as to what caused the fire. She was also devastated by the loss of her personal items and financial documents. Recently bought oil paints and piles of lumber to refurbish the house, which she shared with her children and grandchildren, went up in the smoke.
“I would like to get back on my feet and get all the things I had. All the lumber and thing that I had that wasn’t no credit nothin’; that was all cash,” Esther said.
But the family will have a roof of refuge over their heads tonight due to efforts made by Minister of Home Affairs and MP for St James North, Edmund Hinkson, and Apostle Lucille Baird of Mount Zion Missions Ministries to provide temporary accommodation.
However, the family of six in the house next door, owned by relatives Janice and Clifford Lynch, were unsure about their fate. The Lynches’ home was partially damaged on one side and one bedroom was engulfed in flames. Their daughter Crystal Rock told Barbados TODAY that despite the valiant efforts of neighbours and family, the fire could not be contained until firefighters arrived.
“I saw the flames engulf my cousin bedroom so I just ran out to make sure that they were ok and when I get above there then I saw more flames. There wasn’t nothing we could do at that point,” said Rock who said that her family of six would be staying at her home until the damaged rooms were repaired.
MP Hinkson was at the scene as three fire tenders and 11 fire officers responded to the blaze. Hinkson used the opportunity to call on home owners to secure property insurance.
“The comprehensive insurance of houses is something that has troubled the minds of Government certainly for the last four years,” Hinkson told Barbados TODAY. “We need to find a way to encourage people to insure their houses. I know it is a question of risk and everyone feels the risk is small but the risk is real.”