9 children among 14 homeless after fire

Two babies were among nine children and six adults who were rendered homeless

yesterday after a fire gutted three homes in the railway line community in Ste Madeleine around noon yesterday.

The three houses where Doona Coombs-Smith and her family lived at Cipero Road were completely destroyed when the fire broke out around midday.


The fire also partially damaged a fourth house, owned by Irene Valentine, who received minor burns to her back, neck and arms as she was fleeing her home.

Coombs-Smith, 57, cried as she spoke about losing their homes, all their belongings, her lifestock – ducks and chickens – and her four puppies. The puppies’ mother Diamond, a black and white dog, was seen searching through the rubble as though she was looking for her babies.

Coombs-Smith and her daughter Tamika Charles, 38, lived in the same house which was separated into two sections.

Coombs-Smith lived alone, but Charles lived with her five daughters, ages 13, 12, 10 and twin three year olds, and her 17 year old son. Charles’ two older sons Russell Grant, 20 and Jemile Cooper, 21, lived in the other two houses, but they were at work when the fire started.

Grant’s common-law wife Aphia Alexander, 22, their two children – six days old and three years old – and Cooper’s wife Shantelle Mohammed, 25, and their one month old baby, were home. Coombs-Smith, 57, recalled she was about to cook a meal of bake and bhagi when she smelt something burning.

She said the smoke came from the backroom by her daughter. “We switch off all the breakers. It was still smoking. We make sure we call the fire brigade, neighbours calling the fire brigade and when they do reach here is because the main roof was caving in.” She cried, “Everything just went down in flames. All my duck, all my birds, ducklings, all my fowls everything just went down in flames..I have nothing if anybody could give a lil helping hand.”

Charles said she was not home when the fire began. She said just three years ago they rewired the house.

“All my daughters and son are in school. One of them writing SEA, but I don’t know how they going to school. We have lost everything, even our documents.

Everything gone. My grandchildren are saying by my brother but I am now looking for

somewhere for my children to stay.”

Valentine recalled that she watching television when she heard the commotion. When she eventually looked out she saw her neighbours houses covered in smoke. As the fire spread to her home, Valentine said burning plastic from the ceiling fell on her.

Councillor Shawn Premanchan appealed to the public, not only government, to assist the families to support these families with relief items such as clothing, baby supplies, food, water and building supplies. He said the Disaster Management Unit has already visited the families and he will try to help them with grants and hampers from Self Help and the Social Development Ministry.

Source: Guardian http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2018-03-22/9-children-among-14-homeless-after-fire