Arsonist on the loose
By CECILY ASSON Thursday, September 20 2012
THE fiery death of retired executive accountant Nizarmool Maccum, 65, in the early hours of Tuesday morning has sparked fear and outrage among relatives and friends living in the close- knit rural community located just off the Preysal Flyover in Couva.
Maccum’s two-storey house was completely destroyed Tuesday in a fire of unknown origin and his charred remains later discovered among the ruins. According to reports, police found only a torso lying on the iron springs of a burnt couch. The limbs were missing, police said.
At 5 am on Tuesday, neighbours were alerted to smoke coming from Maccum’s home and raised an alarm. Maccum’s grieving sister Zulfina Bridgelal, 57, said there was evidence around the yard that someone had broken into her brother’s house.
“The police are doing their work, and we know they will find the person responsible,” she said.
But while no other deaths have been recorded, so far in the village, three other families in the area have also fallen victim to house fires and are now homeless.
Police are working on the theory that two of the fires were deliberately set. One fire spread causing another house to burn. Among the victims are Shanti Persad, 62, and her bedridden husband Rasheed Garib, 58.
On August 8, minutes after returning to her home at Sealey Trace, Preysal, from taking Garib to the doctor, Persad told Newsday she heard a loud explosion. When she looked outside she saw her neighbour’s house, situated very close to hers, on fire. No one was at home at the time, and no one knows how the fire started, Persad told Newsday.
The blaze spread so quickly she said that she was unable to save anything in her house.
So far, losses to the home, household items and other personal belongings, including cash and jewelry were estimated at approximately $500,000, Persad told Newsday yesterday.
Persad recalled what happened: “I was going to the kitchen, and I heard something explode. When I looked, I saw this big blaze in my neighbours’s house. I couldn’t do anything again. All I could do was to grab my husband, and try to get him out, because he can’t walk.”
Garib, she said suffered a stroke a few years ago and was confined to bed. “I called his sister and together we got him out of the house.” Persad is now staying at her sister’s home until better can be done. Persad said she was visited by officials from the Ministry of the People and Social Development, who assessed her situation in order to give her a grant. Her neighbours, a couple, whom she knew only as Derek and Michelle said to be in their 50s also lost everything in the fire. They are now staying with relatives. Over at Powdharie Street, Couva, another house was burnt “about two months ago.” Neighbours told Newsday the house was tenanted by a man who was known only as “Romeo,” and he lived alone. A neighbour who spoke on condition of anonymity expressed her concern about the recent upsurge in robberies and fires.
“We don’t know what is going on in here, but we need them to find the perpetrator quickly. We are all running scared.” PC Phillip of the Couva CID is conducting enquiries. Maccum will be buried tomorrow according to Muslim rites.