Fri | Dec 8, 2023

Fire destroys Wortley Home for girls

Published:Monday | June 29, 2015 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Firefighters carrying out cooling-down operations at the Wortley Home for Girls fire along Constant Spring Road in St Andrew yesterday.
Men from Cassava Piece offering their assistance during a fire at the Wortley Home for Girls yesterday.
Deloris Bailey (right) explains the fiery ordeal to police.

A near century-old building housing 19 girls at the Wortley Home at 193 Constant Spring Road in St Andrew was destroyed by fire yesterday, but no one was harmed.

Four dorms at the facility for girls, which was founded in 1918, were destroyed after fire engulfed a large section of the 97-year-old building and quickly gutted the house.

Deloris Bailey, a supervisor at the girls' home, told The Gleaner that she was in her office when she saw smoke coming from the dorms upstairs.

There were 19 girls at the home, which is operated by the Anglican Diocese of Jamaica.

Furniture saved

As the fire spread rapidly, consuming the living quarters of the wards, several youths from the Cassava Piece community rushed to the assistance of the occupants of Wortley Home and managed to save furniture and other items.

After the fire, Bailey said she could account for the eight girls who were at the home, adding that the other 11 were at school.

Bailey said the home was working with the Child Development Agency to find accommodation for the young women.

"I am so grateful it did not happen at night because some of the girls are hard to wake up," she said.

Anglican Bishop of Kingston, the Right Reverend Dr Robert Thompson, who arrived at the home while the firefighters were still conducting cooling-down operations, said the church would mobilise "all the forces possible" to provide assistance to the home.

He expressed the view that out of this mishap "some goodness will come".

Six units from the fire department responded to the blaze and later brought it under control.

Superintendent Sean Martin, the officer in charge of the Kingston and St Andrew fire service, said 40 fire personnel were deployed to the location.

Quizzed by journalists about the time it took fire personnel to arrive at the scene of the fire, Martin said he was not aware of any delays, noting that his department received a call at 11:37 a.m. and responded immediately.

While acknowledging that the damage to the Wortley Home amounted to millions of dollars, Martin was not willing to provide a specific estimate at this time.

He said an investigation was being conducted to determine the cause of the fire.