4 homeless as fire guts Princes Street home

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Ranks of the Guyana Fire Service came in for high commendation after containing a blaze that gutted a Princes Street, Wortmanville Georgetown house mid-afternoon on Sunday, leaving its four occupants homeless.

The destroyed upper flat of the Princes Street house

The fire started just after 14:30h in the upper flat of the wooden and concrete house located at Lot 1515 Princes Street. This publication understands that the blaze started in the back of the house, where the kitchen is located, and quickly spread through the house, destroying everything in the upstairs.

The house was occupied by sisters Onika Christine and Sandra, along with the latter’s two children, aged six and 13. They operated a hair salon in the bottom flat of the house, which belonged to their overseas-based aunt.

At the time when the fire broke out, no one was in the upper flat and Sandra was in the salon with some customers. Speaking with reporters, the traumatised woman recalled that she was chatting with some customers in the salon after doing their hair, when she heard the neighbours calling for her and shouting fire.

A distraught Onika Christine, one of the now homeless four occupants

“I run upstairs and that’s when I see the fire… it went till in the back by the kitchen,” she related. The woman said at the time there was nothing on the stove nor did they hear any explosions that could have sparked the inferno. The only electrical appliance in the kitchen was a microwave, which she said was unplugged.

With the help of neighbours and public-spirited citizens, a few of their belongings in the salon downstairs were saved, while they were unable to salvage anything from the upper flat.
Meanwhile, her younger sister Onika Christine, who had left home shortly before, was distraught when she returned and saw nothing left of their living quarters. The sisters grew up in the house.

After the firemen were able to put out the blaze, Divisional Officer of the Fire Service, Compton Sparman, told reporters at the scene that after receiving a call about the fire, two fire tenders were dispatched – one from the Central Station and the other from the West Ruimveldt Station.

“When we got here, the entire top floor of the building was engulfed in flames. Immediately, we got into fire-fighting mode using water from our tank supply and subsequently, we used water from the canal which was very filled. And we successfully confined the fire to the top floor,” he reported.

Sparman added that because of the close proximity of the neighbouring buildings, the firemen had to adopt the defence mode of fire-fighting, to prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings.

The Divisional Fire Officer pointed out that despite the two neighbouring buildings being wooden as well, they were only scorched by the flames. Nevertheless, Sparman noted that the Fire Service would continue investigations to determine the cause of the fire.

A next-door neighbour, who gave her name as Fay, indicated to reporters that her microwave, which she was using at the time, had sparked and the lights had dimmed a little shortly before they heard persons shouting fire.

The woman said that she and her husband, who, along with their daughter, occupy the lower flat of the eastern neighbouring house, were inside and after hearing the shouts, they rushed out and saw heavy smoke emanating from the upper flat of the building.

Her husband rushed back into the house and summoned the Fire Service, which arrived a few minutes later.

However, in the meantime, persons had begun soaking the two neighbouring homes to prevent the fire from spreading. The western building is a wooden apartment complex and luckily, there was no major damage to the building. In this regard, the neighbours commended the firemen for a job well done, noting that they only suffered water damage.

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