Family mourns as 71-y-o dies in fire
Jennifer Hayles and her family used much of Monday cleaning what was left of the Lincoln Crescent home that was gutted by a fire that tragically claimed the life of her 71-year-old father on Saturday.
The inferno, which reportedly started due to a short circuit, began about 4:30 a.m. while the family, including a one-year-old child, slept.
It was a grandchild who was awakened by the smoke filling the room who alerted everyone.
Though they have washed away debris, they can never erase the final moments which ultimately caused doctors to give Ugent Rowe mere hours to live.
When The Gleaner visited the dwelling, skin that had peeled from Rowe’s body could still be seen plastered on the smoke-stained walls, telling the tale of the hellish trauma he endured.
According to Hayles, despite efforts by many, including grandchildren baring cuts and burns, to save his life, the 8:20 burn ratio proved too much to overcome.
“Each time they held his hand his skin just stripped. Each time dem grab him fi lift him out the house, they can’t get a grip,” she said.
As they tried to use creative ways, the screams from Rowe grew louder, a grandchild remembered.
He was rushed to the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) where he succumbed to his injuries sometime after 2 p.m.
Hayles no longer resides at the location but theorised that her father went in pursuit of the one-year-old and ended up trapped by a mattress that was also in flames.
She is puzzled and troubled, at the same time, as she believes more probably could have been done by the hospital to save her father.
“I’m stuck between the short span of time they (hospital staff) say I must go and get the stuff (Pampers) and before I even buy them, they call me back to say that he passed,” Hayles said.
Hayles said though badly burnt from head to above ankle, her father spoke clearly and even assisted himself with climbing the hospital bed, to the doctor’s amazement.
“Still alive and he was talking. When they had him in the emergency room he was crying ‘Lord, God, help me. Take me out of this’,” she said.
She told The Gleaner that she asked the doctors to be frank with her as she was the strongest and would be the one to relay all information to the family.
Hayles said she had drawn blank in trying to understand how she will get by, noting that the family now only has good ‘father for everyone’ memories of him to live with.
“Mi talk to him (corpse) and ask him why him couldn’t wait because mi tell him I soon come back and him say ‘alright’ him a go wait ... even four-year-old TJ say ‘Aunty Jenny, how you say you gonna bring home grandfather. Mi want to go down grandfather’. How mi fi answer him?” Hayles said.
“How can you move forward knowing that you pass every day to stop and talk to your father. His grandchildren always want to be around him. How we move past that, how?” she continued.
The family said that, by the time the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) got to the scene, there was no need for water as the residents had helped themselves in extinguishing the blaze.
The JFB and the Jamaica Constabulary Force confirmed reports of the fire and said the incident was still being investigated.