Tobago boy saves granny, 86, from burning house

Jubari Phillips, 16, looks at the damage after a fire early Monday morning destroyed the house he lived in at George Street, Glamorgan, Tobago. - David Reid
Jubari Phillips, 16, looks at the damage after a fire early Monday morning destroyed the house he lived in at George Street, Glamorgan, Tobago. - David Reid

Jubari Phillips, 16, instinctively jumped into action when he realised his house was on fire – with his family locked inside.

The fourth form Bishop’s High School student is being hailed a hero, after he rescued his seven-member family from their burning home at George Street, Glamorgan on Monday. The family includes four adults, aged 86, 59, 55 and 32, and his two siblings, 13 and ten.

In an interview, Phillips told Newsday he was scared by the ordeal, but: “I couldn’t have left my great-granny.”

He recounted what happened.

“It was approximately around 2.40 am, while I was sleeping, and through my sleep, I smelt smoke, so I wake up.

"I called out to everybody in the house. I run downstairs with a bucket of water to try and see if I could have tried and out the fire.

"When I look in my uncle room, the whole bed was on fire – the whole room. I went back upstairs, crack down the door for everybody to come out. I lift up my great-granny, bring she up the road.”

Jubari Phillips, 16, amid the ruins on Tuesday after the house he resided in on George Street, Glamorgan went up in flames early Monday morning. - David Reid

The house was owned by his great-grandmother, 86-year-old pensioner Thelma Javis.

Phillips said he was just doing what anyone would have done for their family.

“I am just upset that I did not try to grab some stuff – we lost everything.”

The student began the final term of the the school year last week.

In turn, his family said they are grateful for his efforts.

His grandmother, Jacqueline Hamilton, said: “I am thankful to God and my grandson that woke us up when our home was gutted by fire.”

She said after the fire, they were all housed at the Richmond Great House for two nights.

Divisional Fire Officer for Tobago David Thomas said the cause of the blaze was accidental, as investigators were unable to prove that it involved any deliberate act.

Thomas said the house was valued at $540,000, and the contents at $80,000. All the household items were destroyed.

Thomas said fire officers have noted "an increase" in fires recently and urged people to be more vigilant.

WORRIES AND PROBLEMS: Jacqueline Hamilton holds her head as she sits in James Park, Scarborough on Tuesday after her George Street, Glamorgan, Tobago home was destroyed by fire early Monday morning. PHOTOS BY DAVID REID - David Reid

"A lot of incidents are because of careless acts by individuals. Individuals need to pull themselves together, especially during this pandemic.

"We should be thinking in preserving what we have. Persons engaging in careless behaviour and it's costing them valuables and homes."

Thomas urged people to scrutinise their LPG gas tank connections as they may become faulty over time.

"We're still analysing data, but it appears people aren't looking at those hoses, the head (regulator) is inferior, resulting in explosions and fire,. and people becoming injured because of faulting mechanism."

Thomas also said there has also been cases of arson recently.

"People appear to be settling their differences by using these methods, by destroying people's property by fire.

"We are still grappling with data but we are seeing those trends. It is a little frightening." (with reporting by Stephon Nicholas)

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