The son of Inez Mabel Fields, the 81-year-old who died in an early morning blaze at Newbury, St George, says he made several attempts to stop her from using a kerosene oil lamp.
A grieving Anderson Fields, his mother’s only child, said he even went as far as to change the bulb in her bedroom when she told him that the reason she continued to use the oil lamp at night was because the heat from the bulb kept her body hot.
But Fields who lives at Glebe, St George, said his mother, who was stuck in her ways, never stopped using the lamp.
Hours after he identified his mother’s body, the 59-year-old told Barbados TODAY that while he was yet to find out from officials what started the blaze, he could not help but to think the oil lamp was the cause.
“I couldn’t get her to stop use it, even though the house have in electricity. She told me the light in the house in the bedroom was too hot so I put in a LED, which would cut down on the heat because a LED doesn’t give off that much heat, and then she told me it was too bright,” Fields said.
“So I told her she could turn on the light in the dining room because you know the houses use to build that the partition doesn’t go right up and the light would still come over into the bedroom. But then she said the light ain’t enough. I am not sure if that caused the problem and I don’t think I would ever find out, but I know it wasn’t electrical problem,” he added.
Fields also pointed out that his mother suffered with poor vision. He said because she was determined to maintain her independence she continued to leave home on her own and travelled into Bridgetown although her doctor had warned her not to. He said she often insisted that she wanted to purchase her own items.
Around 2:20 a.m., Police from Boarded Hall Police Station responded to calls about a house on fire. On arrival, they found the two-bedroom wooden house engulfed in flames. Two fire tenders from Bridgetown and Four Roads, St John with an eight personnel under the command of Divisional Officer Vaughn responded and extinguished the blaze.
They found the victim’s body in the bedroom doorway.
Fields said he received the a call from a neighbour informing him that his mother’s house was on fire, and then eventually seeing her badly burnt body.
He described his mother as a caring and strict individual who loved to share.
He also informed that she was a hawker for many years and could often be seen balancing a basket on her head while holding two more in her hands, moving from house to house in areas such as Mylord’s Hill and the Ivy, St Michael, selling her ground provision and other goods, most of which she planted and reaped herself.
Hours had passed but Field’s neighbours were still in a state of disbelief when Barbados TODAY visited the area. They explained that it was a driver blowing his car horn that alerted them that the house was on fire.
The driver was not at the scene when Barbados TODAY got there, however, one resident said he told him that the house was already engulfed in flames when he noticed it from a distance.
“She was a nice person. She would give anybody anything. She was still stuck in her old ways; stubborn and wouldn’t take advice from younger people, you know the old people.
“I didn’t smell the smoke. I was sleeping. When my phone rang and I answered it; the person said to me that the lady there house burning and when I come out it was actually done burn. There was a guy there he was passing when he see it and he was blowing the horn to wake up people.
“When I come out I tell he ‘it got a woman in that house’ and he tell me I got to be making sport. Nobody could get in there to save her,” one neighbour who did not give his name said.
At 12 p.m. Edwin Parris was sitting in his gallery staring at the burnt house in disbelief. An elderly Parris said he could not believe that his childhood friend was gone. He said he too was awaken from his sleep to be told that the house was on fire.
“I like I did lost, I couldn’t believe what I seeing,” Parris said.
“She was a good neighbour to me and we raise up together out here. We never had nothing like this here happen out here yet. Everybody in shock,” Parris said.
Inez Fields’ older brother Lionel Fields, 84, who also stood next to Parris looking on at what was left of the elderly woman’s house said he was not only grieving the loss of a sibling, but also a friend.
He admired his sister’s love for God and how she worked hard in the fields to earn an honest dollar. He said he last laid eyes on his sister on Tuesday when they travelled on the same bus.
“The last words she utter to me was to ‘get home safe’. I am going to miss visiting her because I use to visit every Saturday evening. But I am trying to be strong and to be able to cope. I can’t break down or nothing. I am actually living on my own too,” Lionel said. (AH)