Sat | Dec 9, 2023

Burnt out home and hope - Family seeks help after losing everything in fire

Published:Thursday | December 31, 2020 | 12:10 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
The burnt-out remains of the family home in Battersea, Manchester.
The burnt-out remains of the family home in Battersea, Manchester.
From left: Jean Ellis and her daughters Tamara Morris and Kedesha Morris.
From left: Jean Ellis and her daughters Tamara Morris and Kedesha Morris.

The sound of her granddaughter’s voice was the strongest she had ever heard it, as the startled child alerted everyone within earshot to the imminent danger that would change their lives forever.

Sixty-two-year-old Jean Ellis said she was asleep when her granddaughter rushed in to tell her that fire was engulfing the house in early March of this year.

The three-bedroom board dwelling that was occupied by Ellis and her two daughters burned to the ground after an unextinguished coal stove fell on to a pile of board.

“I was at home with a friend, my granddaughter and grandson. Somebody left the coal pot (burning) and it look like the it drop on some board that was under the cellar and catch fire, and everything burn up.”

The family managed to save only the clothes on their backs and almost a year later, they are still sheltering at the homes of friends across the parish.

“We lost everything; everything. I was on the road when it happened. Somebody told me that the house was burning down and me turn idiot. I didn’t know what to do. I went to the house immediately and I saw my mother barefooted. She didn’t even know herself, she was lost, just staring out into space,” said daughter Tamara Morris.


That day, Morris said, she could have lost her mother, as the house was already engulfed in flames by the time her mother and her granddaughter were able to exit the building.

“We have been struggling ever since. Somebody sorry for us and gave us two mattresses, some clothes and a little cot, and we stay with different people.”

Morris said she is hoping that she can get some assistance in any form, so that she can continue to sustain herself and the family.

“I have three children, but only two are with me, and the little work I do as a bearer three days a week pays little, so I can take care of them. But I really want a home, especially for my mother. She is really stressed out, and it so hard to see her like this and not be able to do more for her.”

Morris added: “Where we lived, the land is not ours, it’s an abandoned land, but we have been living there with other people for 16 years. We put up the small structures because we don’t have it to pay rent and we need a roof over our head. We wouldn’t mind if we could get a little material to put up a structure.”

Ellis said the past few months have been so difficult that they have grown accustomed to going to bed hungry.

“It is not pretty, but we just have to do what we can. It is very difficult ... we just need any help we can get. If we can even get some assistance for government housing, we would be grateful.”

Morris said she is willing to do whatever it takes to bring some level of normality back to their lives.

“Everybody is just bouncing all over the place and as a daughter, you don’t want to see your mother like that. She used to rent a room for $5,000 and she had to give it up because we can’t afford it. My brother and I are the only ones doing a little work and the pay is small. I am really hoping some help will come our way.”

To assist Tamara Morris and her mother, call (876) 471-0102.