Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Blind woman, infant among six homeless as fire guts family dwelling

Published:Friday | September 11, 2020 | 12:14 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Orett Simpson (left) and Andrew White clearing the charred rubble from a house on Arthur Jones Avenue in St Andrew yesterday. The house was gutted by fire on Wednesday night.
Orett Simpson (left) and Andrew White clearing the charred rubble from a house on Arthur Jones Avenue in St Andrew yesterday. The house was gutted by fire on Wednesday night.
Fifty-three-year-old Jennifer Harrison, who is visually impaired, is appealing for help to get the family back on its feet after they lost everything in Wednesday night’s fire.
Fifty-three-year-old Jennifer Harrison, who is visually impaired, is appealing for help to get the family back on its feet after they lost everything in Wednesday night’s fire.
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A visually impaired woman and at least five members of her family, including a 10-month-old infant, were spared injury when fire gutted their three-bedroom house on Arthur Jones Avenue, located off Waltham Park Road in St Andrew, on Wednesday.

The inferno reportedly began about 6:30 p.m. while there was a power cut in the community after a transformer had exploded.

Yesterday, the displaced family sat on a sidewalk in despair, pondering their next move with all their possessions gone.

Jennifer Harrison, who is 53 years old and visually impaired, told The Gleaner that she had just finished eating when an alarm was raised.

“I was lying down, jus eat a little food and then mi hear dem say, ‘Fire! Fire!’, and dem tell me to come out, and I say, ‘Come out and I don’t have on any shoes?’ I took up my bag, and coming out it’s like it started to spread.”

Harrison occupies a section of the dwelling with her 74-year-old mother and 21-year-old daughter.

Harrison’s sister, her husband, and an infant reside in the other section.

HELP MY DAUGHTER

Harrison is appealing for help, especially for her daughter who is employed to a call centre and was working from home because of the pandemic and has lost all the equipment.

“My daughter now have to go find $300,000 for the machine. She works at the call centre and was working from home when it happened. ... She a bawl from when ... ,” she told The Gleaner.

Sitting on the sidewalk in front of the place she once called home, Harrison also urged the Government to come to their rescue.

“We need the Government to help us, especially me like how I can’t see. I need some help,” she said. “Mommy have pressure and diabetic. She need to get back her medication ‘cause everything burn up. Her insulin and everything gone.”

Errol Wynter, who lives in the area, commended other residents for their valiant efforts to help save the house.

“Di man dem on the roof with water a try help, but manpower alone couldn’t do it. We did need the fire brigade [earlier]. We rate dem and dem risk dem life a do a wonderful job, but only ting say, dem might coulda come a five minutes earlier or so ... . Dem out the fire and do dem job, but di people dem lose everything,” he said.

The fire department told The Gleaner that it dispatched units from the York Park and Trench Town stations to extinguish the blaze. A team of about 15 firefighters combated the inferno.

“Inside of the house is completely destroyed,” said District Officer O. Scarlett of the Kingston and St Andrew Fire Division. “Response was in less than a minute because we’re coming from Trench Town.”

Investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing.

“It’s sad. Everyone feels it. Mi glad say the blind woman and the baby safe,” one resident commented. “It was one of the best houses on the avenue. It burn out fast, enuh. Can you imagine if a did board house like mine?”

Anyone who is willing to assist the family can call Harrison at 876-478-7446.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com