Fire leaves more than 60 homeless
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
More than 60 people were yesterday left homeless as a massive fire wiped out an entire block comprising several residential dwellings and a few business establishments that transect Regent and Beeston streets and Chestnut Lane near the heavily commercialised area of western Kingston.
The tragedy is the latest in a series of infernos that have haunted the poverty-ravaged community over the past month and easily the most devastating to date.
Karen Foote was hit with a double whammy, having been burnt out of her nearby Chestnut Lane home recently, and gone to live with her mother, Majorie Rodney.
"Only two weeks ago inna Chestnut Lane and de same thing happen. The whole a mi baby dem tings burn out," Foote lamented.
The spectacle was heart-rending as a throng of wailing women, most with young babies resting on their arms, wept openly in the already deprived community.
An entire family was left homeless. Prince and Princess Lee as well as Tommy and Mary Lee looked helplessly at the raging inferno and wrung their hands with little else to do.
"Me and mi sister live in there," wept another victim, Michelle White. "Everything gone for me, but what is worse is that mi sister have children and everything gone."
While some good Samaritans sought to assist, the people of the community complained that they were being robbed by other unscrupulous persons.
For some reason, the Jamaica Public Service received the brunt of the blame for the blaze. When pressed, for an explanation, heated young mothers noisily complained they were being asked to pay what they could not afford for electricity since the system was regularised.
Another group of fuming men directed their anger at members of a team of firefighters after it was discovered that the trucks were without water and they had to summon assistance.
McKenzie shared the men's sentiments.
"It is a sad reflection on the country because this is the seventh fire in my constituency in less than a month. This fire started about 11:15 a.m. I called the fire brigade immediately as I got the call. It took the fire brigade almost 40 minutes to get there," he said.
McKenzie said he was extremely frustrated with the state of affairs as they relate to the fire services.
"If the response from the fire service was shortened probably what you seeing now could have been avoided."