An eight-year-old girl and her 40-year-old aunt died in a fire which destroyed the family’s home in Moruga yesterday.
Alliyah Primus and her aunt, Nolene Niesha Gopaul, were trapped inside the burning house in Indian Walk.
Police said the front and back doors were on fire.
Investigators are yet to determine whether the blaze was deliberately set.
Fifteen people, including six young children, lived in the two-storey concrete house.
They all escaped, except for little Alliyah and her aunt.
Fire officers attempted to enter the house to search for them, but were prevented by the thick, black smoke.
After the blaze was extinguished, the child and her aunt were found in the kitchen.
The girl was still wrapped in her aunt’s arms.
An autopsy performed by forensic pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov found they both died from smoke and soot inhalation.
Grandfather Lincoln Elvin said he was asleep with his wife, Sumintra Gopaul, in an adjacent apartment when he heard a loud noise around 2 a.m.
Elvin, 70, said he looked outside and saw the house where his children and grandchildren were asleep on fire.
“I got the key and tried to open my front door, but current went and the key dropped. I ran back and broke a window to get out. Then I started calling everyone. They started to run out. I started to count and ask who was missing. Someone said Alliyah and Niesha were missing. I tried to go in but I could not see anything, and I was calling but no answer,” he said.
Elvin said fire officers arrived and extinguished the blaze.
His daughter and granddaughter were found in the kitchen. “They were trying to get to the door but fire was at both doors so they got trapped,” he said.
Elvin said he had spent all day on Thursday with Alliyah. “I injured my foot and she would stay with me all day. She would ask me if I wanted water or food. She would take care of me. She was a happy, loving child,” he said.
The child’s mother, Nicole Gopaul, was not at home when the fire started.
Relatives said the single mother of one worked late and stayed the night at a friend’s house in Oropouche. When she was away, Alliyah would stay with her aunt, relatives said.
Nicole Gopaul, 32, was inconsolable when she returned home yesterday.
Her twin sister, Nikiesha Mitchell, said her sister worked hard to care for her only child.
She said: “My niece was sleeping with my sister last night. They loved each other. There is more to this fire but we don’t want to say anything right now.”
Nolene Niesha Gopaul, a construction worker, was the mother of a 16-year-old girl. Her daughter, Tenisha McIntosh, was staying the night at her grandmother’s house a short distance away.
Another relative, ten-year-old Alexi Butcher, suffered burns to her right arm as she tried to escape.
Two weeks ago, the family held a thanksgiving service for Alliyah.
Her aunt said: “When she was born, she had a breathing problem and was on life support for three days. Recently, she started asking to go back to church and asked for a thanksgiving. Two weeks ago, we had one for her right here.”
Relatives said Alliyah was excited to return to school in September. Her schoolbooks and uniform were already purchased.
The family had planned to take the children to Las Cuevas Beach on Sunday.
Moruga/Tableland Member of Parliament Dr Lovell Francis visited the family yesterday.
He said: “I was informed this morning that there was a fire at Fifth Company, Moruga, in an area popularly called Dougla City. I went to the site and saw the home of the Gopaul family entirely destroyed. However, even more tragic was the fact that two persons were also killed in the fire.”
Lovell called on the nation to pray for the family.
Source: Trinidad Express http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20170811/news/girl-8-dies-in-aunt8217s-arms