Wed | Jul 17, 2019

Explosion damages houses, church in east Portland

Published:Friday | July 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMGareth Davis/Gleaner Writer
The verandah at a house owned by Lloyd Fields in Kensington, Portland, that was damaged by an explosion in a nearby container yesterday.
Remnants of the 40-foot container that exploded, damaging the nearby Methodist Church building in Kensington, east Portland yesterday.

Investigators from the Port Antonio fire station are conducting a probe into the cause of an explosion of a 40-ft container in the farming community of Kensington in east Portland yesterday. At least three houses, a church, and two vehicles suffered extensive damage

The massive explosion, which shattered doors and windows at three upscale houses, also damaged the nearby Kensington Methodist Church, where 32 children and seven adults were attending vacation Bible school.

The adjoining church was extensively damaged, with several windows shattered and debris scattered all over the church property, while the roof also suffered damage.

"It was a rather frightening experience," commented the Reverend Bernise Williams, head of the Kensington Methodist Church.

She added: "Glass windows were shattered and doors were blown off their hinges. Broken glass is lying everywhere, and the roofing has to be replaced. Three adults received minor cuts after the explosion shattered the windows. We will not be able to conduct normal church on Sunday."

According to Williams, the church, which also houses a community centre, was damaged extensively and will have to undergo significant repairs. She said that it was only a miracle that children were not hurt as during the explosion, glass was flying all around.

She indicated that all church-related activities have been suspended due to the state of the building.

Reports are that shortly after 11 a.m. on Thursday, a 40-foot cold-storage container, used to store plantains and bananas, exploded, causing severe damage to a three-bedroom house located on the same property. A barrister rail, ten windows, and three doors were blown up from the house owned by Lloyd Fields.

A resident, Lisa Bryan, who is a close friend of the property owner, said that she was at work some meters away when she heard the explosion.

"This explosion happened at the right time. Normally, workers would be on location to check or pack fruits into the container. But today, they, somehow, turned up late for work," she recounted.

"God is working, and on a day like today, bodies would be lying around as it was a powerful explosion that was felt by residents up to 1,000 meters away. It was rather like an earthquake, and the vibration was felt all around," she added.