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Monday 16 July 2018
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17 homeless after PoS fire

Gutted: Four houses were left severely damgaed by a fire on Basilon Street, Belmont, on Wednesday evening. PHOTO BY AZLAN MOHAMMED.

A fire which ignited on Wednesday evening on Basilon Street, Port of Spain, has left four families homeless.

Seventeen people, including ten children, who lived in closely stacked houses on Basilon Street were left with little more than the clothes on their backs after their homes were destroyed.

“All my clothes, tools and documents are gone,” said Kevon Felix, a 28-year-old taxi driver, “My grandmother just got medication for her eyes and that was burned in the fire too. The only thing I have now is the clothes I am wearing, and my car keys.”

The fire started at about 7.20 pm yesterday. Residents on Basilon Street noticed smoke coming from one of the four houses and began shouting to the people occupying the house to warn them.

The homes were quickly evacuated, and some of the residents tried to douse the fire while others called the Fire and Emergency Services but the fire had spread too quickly for the residents to contain.

Homeless: From left, brothers Kerwin and Edwin Felix, TJ Ryan and Ezekiel Allen rest on matresses at the Basilon Street Youth Facility, East Dry River, following a fire that gutted four houses nearby. In all, ten children were made homeless by the tragedy. PHOTO BY AZLAN MOHAMMED.

One resident, Utilda Ryan, who has been confined to a wheelchair, told Newsday her family had to carry her out of her burning house.

“I was lying in bed when all of a sudden I heard a lot of screaming. Someone was shouting, ‘Fire! Fire!’ The next thing I know, I heard a loud banging on my door. My son, who was sleeping outside, broke down the door to my room and got me out of the house.”

By the time fire officers from Belmont and Wrightson Road arrived, at least one of the homes was completely engulfed in flames but they managed to contain the blaze to the four houses.

While no one was hurt, the 17 residents were left with nowhere to sleep, even as the cold rain which fell for the majority of Wednesday night came down.

MP for Port of Spain South Marlene MacDonald and representatives of the Port of Spain City Corporation came to the assistance of the victims and arranged for them to sleep at the Basilon Street Youth Facility, a stone’s throw away from the site of the fire. They were provided with mattresses.

Yesterday, when Newsday reporters went to visit the victims, they lauded MacDonald, the Fire Service and the PoS corporation for their quick response.

The corporation has given them letters to take to the National Commission for Self Help so that they may rebuild their homes, or even be given new ones. Newsday was told that MacDonald visited the fire victims, took their information and told them she would do her best to assist.

However, the homeless families also asked for assistance from anyone who could provide food, clothes, medication and access to housing.


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