11 homeless after T&T fire

Trinidad Guardian:-  A Ce­dros busi­ness­man suf­fered more than $4.5 mil­lion in loss­es af­ter his house and busi­ness were de­stroyed in a fire which al­so dam­aged two neigh­bour­ing hous­es.

In to­tal eleven peo­ple, in­clud­ing busi­ness­man Bri­an Austin, his wife, four chil­dren, his Venezue­lan friend, his wife and two chil­dren, and his sis­ter-in-law, have been dis­placed.

The cause of the fire, which broke out around 3.30 pm on Sat­ur­day up­stairs Austin’s house at Bonasse Vil­lage, Ce­dros, is yet to be de­ter­mined.

How­ev­er, the fire has sparked re­newed calls by coun­cil­lor Shankar Teelucks­ingh and vil­lagers for a fire ten­der and am­bu­lance to be as­signed to the fish­ing vil­lage.

Austin, his wife, Lisa Boodoo-Austin, and four boys—his el­dest son, age 16, is autis­tic, and his ten-year-old son suf­fers from brain seizures—lived down­stairs the house where he al­so op­er­at­ed his gar­ment and hab­er­dash­ery busi­ness.

His two oth­er boys are ages 14 and five.

Austin, a chief ma­rine en­gi­neer, said he was with his ten-year-old son in Point Fortin when his wife phoned him with the trag­ic news.

He said, “Her sis­ter (who lives up­stairs) start­ed smelling some­thing and she said when she get up and walk, she in the sec­ond to last bed­room, she just see fire com­ing out of the front bed­room. I just change the roof about three months ago and we use this heat proof­ing thing.”

He said she, along with his Venezue­lan friend and his wife, and two chil­dren, ages 16 and three, who al­so lived up­stairs, ran out of the house.

Austin said his wife and three boys, who were down­stairs, al­so scam­pered to safe­ty. Nei­ther the house nor the busi­ness was in­sured. “I have to start over from scratch,” lament­ed Austin.

He said his Venezuela friend, who was grant­ed po­lit­i­cal asy­lum be­cause of the cri­sis in his coun­try, lost all their be­long­ings and doc­u­ments. An­oth­er next door neigh­bour, Ru­pert Smith, 71, suf­fered mi­nor burns while try­ing to keep the fire from spread­ing to his house.

The win­dows, gut­ter­ing and tanks were dam­aged by the rag­ing flames.

An­oth­er neigh­bour, Veena Ali, 72, pres­i­dent of the Ce­dros Vil­lage Coun­cil, re­called how she prayed and cried be­cause she thought her house was al­so go­ing to be de­stroyed. The fire dam­aged her roof and win­dows. Thank­ful to the fire-fight­ers and com­mu­ni­ty for their help, she, how­ev­er, ap­pealed to the au­thor­i­ties to as­sign a fire ap­pli­ance in the area.

Al­so mak­ing a sim­i­lar call, Teelucks­ingh said it took an hour for the small fire ap­pli­ance to ar­rive from Point Fortin.

He said, “The hose that they were try­ing to wet (sic) was leak­ing. They ran out of wa­ter. When they went to the hy­drant which is ap­prox­i­mate­ly where the cen­tre is, the wa­ter pres­sure was low.”

He said a Petrotrin emer­gency team ar­rived around 5.30 pm, but by then the fire was un­der con­trol. He com­plained that the two larg­er ten­ders at the fire sta­tion are un­der re­pairs and there is on­ly one hy­drant in Bonasse.

He called on the au­thor­i­ties to re­in­state plans, which was shelved in 2015, to build a fire sta­tion in Ce­dros. “In the in­ter­im have one fire ten­der be lo­cat­ed at the Se­cu­ri­ty Com­plex in Ce­dros and an am­bu­lance as a first re­spon­der.”

He said it was on­ly by God’s Grace that there have been no fa­tal fires in re­cent years.