Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Burnt to the core, Rum Lane vows to rebound

Published:Friday | May 29, 2020 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

Residents of Rum Lane in downtown Kingston have backed themselves to rise from the ashes of Wednesday’s fire that gutted several dwellings.

But their rebound rests on how quickly they can get help in procuring building and roofing material to start over from scratch.

Varal Williamson was distraught about his losses from the early morning blaze.

With blackened hands from removing burnt items from his home, which doubled as a furniture workshop, he was a picture of deflation and defeat.

“Everything just gone in a short space of time.

“I don’t have the first tool to begin rebuilding. I am left really stranded right now. Nothing at all me have – just the same old clothes weh me have on,” Williams said as his eyes welled up with tears.

The 65-year-old carpenter is hopeful that he will secure hand tools such as a circular saw and a sander to get his furniture-making business going, which will enable him to provide for his children who live in rural Jamaica.

Newton Edwards’ home was unaffected by the fire, but when The Gleaner visited on Thursday, he was busy shovelling burnt rubble in heaps.

“They had a fire here before, but it wasn’t like this. We, as men on the corner, out it, but this one was bigger than us.”

“They have to stop using the ply board. Most of these partitions were ply boards. If they were blocks, a lot of things could have been saved,” said the 55-year-old, who pledged to rally others to the aid of the fire victims.

EVERYTHING LOST

Some residents managed to save some of their belongings, but others lost everything.

“If is even piece of sponge, dem haffi go put it on the concrete and sleep because dem nuh have nowhere to go,” one woman said.

Councillor for the Allman Town division, Charmaine Daniels, was on site on Thursday and detailed some of the interventions being made.

“We were able to assist them with lunch and dinner on Wednesday, and we also gave them a small cash grant to help them. It’s not much, but they are grateful,” Daniels said.

The National Solid Waste Management Authority was also contacted to aid in the clean-up drive.

“There are residents here who want to go back to their own shelter, and most of them are affected by the roofing, so we are seeking partnership,” Daniels said.

Meanwhile, a resident of Pink Lane, also in Kingston, is urging parents and guardians to be more vigilant about their children’s safety.

Deputy Senior Superintendent Joshua Davis has theorised that the fire, which destroyed eight homes on Tuesday, started as a result of a child playing with matches.

“I’ve experienced a lot of fires in this community and have saved a lot of people from burning up. Parents need to supervise their children and counsel them some more because when you turn your back, yuh nuh know weh pickney can do,” he lamented.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com