Tue | Sep 27, 2022

More firebomb claims as central Kingston homes razed again

Published:Wednesday | August 17, 2022 | 12:13 AMAinsworth Morris/Staff Reporter
Several residents are now homeless after their homes were allegedly firebombed around 2 a.m. Tuesday. The two-storey wooden structure at Text Lane, central Kingston, was flattened.
Devon Bailey, a 76-year-old Text Lane resident, who has been forced to rebuild his life after his home was razed on Tuesday.
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At 76, instead of continuing to enjoy his golden years, Devon Bailey is trying to rebuild his life after watching the place he called home for four decades going up in flames on Tuesday.

Bailey, one of four persons who occupied a seven-room building located at 1D Text Lane in central Kingston, was awakened some time after 2 a.m. and realised that the house was on fire.

He is convinced that the building was lit by arsonists and referenced the smell of gasolene as an indicator.

This was the second major fire in central Kingston in eight days. Thirty people living between James Street and Smith Lane were left homeless after several houses were destroyed in an alleged firebombing. That claim has not been independently verified.

Bailey said that he narrowly escaped on Tuesday.

“When time I come through the door fi come outa street, mi couldn't go back in,” Bailey, who has lived at the location for 47 years, said.

He then alerted his daughter and granddaughter, who also lived in the building, and helped them to safety.

The senior lost his television, refrigerator, clothes, bicycle, money – everything.

“Right now, mi don't even have nothing. Only mi life!” he exclaimed.

Bailey's daughter and granddaughter, who asked that their identities not be published, said other residents heard them crying for assistance while inside the house but none came to their rescue.

“A mi grandfather alone tear down the fence. Nobody never help. Everybody stand up a video,” Bailey's granddaughter told The Gleaner while sitting beside her mom on a community sidewalk Tuesday morning.

She is a university student looking forward to September's start of her second academic year. She not only lost her clothes and other personal items, but her treasured laptop which is critical for her schoolwork.

The young woman said cousins of theirs who lived in the building had been spared having moved out on Independence Day, August 6.

Superintendent Berrisford Williams, who heads the Kingston Central Police Division, said there was no evidence up to Tuesday that the fire had been caused by arsonists.

“The cause of the fire is not known. We have not unearthed ... evidence to indicate that it was maliciously caused – certainly not caused by a bottle bomb for now … . We are continuing our investigation,” the divisional chief told The Gleaner.

“We know that we have been having some conflict, and the last of those incidents, as we know, would have occurred early in August … . We have not had any incident of that nature since then.”

The police superintendent has urged residents to come forward with whatever information they have.

Donovan Williams, member of parliament (MP) for Kingston Central, said the charred structure was on the list of houses to be rebuilt under the prime minister's New Social Housing Programme.

“I had recommended this location as one of the beneficiaries under that programme because it was mainly a wooden structure – upstairs wooden structure, really dilapidated. In fact, engineers from the Office of the Prime Minister's Social Housing Unit had passed it as a property that could benefit,” said MP Williams.

“We had done the social survey and we were just awaiting some paperwork to push it through,” he added.

At the time of the assessment, he said around eight persons occupied the building.

To contact Devon Bailey, you may call his granddaughter Shanique Pitt at 876-233-0090. 

ainsworth.morris@gleanerjm.com