Thu | Sep 29, 2022

Dozens homeless after fire on Wildman Street, Smith Lane

Published:Friday | July 1, 2022 | 12:05 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
Two men from the community providing cooling-down operations after a fire left more than a dozen persons homeless in Kingston Wednesday.
Two men from the community providing cooling-down operations after a fire left more than a dozen persons homeless in Kingston Wednesday.
Residents trying to salvage possessions on Smith Lane in Kingston.
Residents trying to salvage possessions on Smith Lane in Kingston.

Firefighters survey the charred wreck where a home once stood.
Firefighters survey the charred wreck where a home once stood.
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Several homes were destroyed and a church partially damaged during a fire on Wednesday at adjoining properties on Smith Lane and Wildman Street in Kingston, leaving more than a dozen persons homeless and others counting losses of cash and personal property.

Pastor Ricardo Hamilton of the Faith Christian Missionary Church located on Smith Lane is counting his blessings, after the structure sustained minor damage during the inferno.

Hamilton told The Gleaner he had no idea what started the fire, having only received a call while on his way home.

“I just came. I live in Old Harbour. I don’t even know who was here before (he arrived). I was told that the young men from the community took charge of it,” he said, giving thanks the building was still standing.

Late Wednesday afternoon, residents were busy carrying water and removing furniture from the church halls.

Three units from the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB) assisted with cooling-down operations.

Some residents at a property next door on Smith Lane were not so lucky.

Ricardo Ferguson told The Gleaner that he lost everything except his work identification card that was around his neck.

“Me deh a work and get a call . Mi babymother was here though, she and the baby. She run out with the baby,” Ferguson said.

“General, yuh nah no link can get back nothing. Nothing mi nuh have ya now. Working youth but yuh see wah gwan now, so me afi go start all over again,” he said.

Ferguson said about 10 other residents were also affected.

NOTHING BUT THE CLOTHES

Albert Polson also returned from work to the disheartening news and said he saved nothing but the clothes he had on.

“A come me come home from work and just weh me have on. When me come a ashes. Me loose absolutely everything. Mi work every day, only one day me nuh work,” Polson said.

Polson tallies his losses at approximately $1 million to include over $100,000 in savings that he had stashed at different places around his dwelling.

“Mi have hundred and odd thousand ina mi house otherwise. In January when me check up mi did have $90,000-plus,” he said. “Every day mi come in mi put down $1,500 and now a June … Mi put me money four different spot inna mi house. Mi nuh come home come see a dollar, everything gone.”

Kingston Central Member of Parliament Donovan Williams was on hand and spoke to the affected residents.

Even in the midst of tragedy, however, some residents said they were restricted because of the gang violence in the community.

The Gleaner understands that another 12 persons on Wildman Street were affected.

They were concerned about their safety during the battle with the inferno.

The Kingston Central police maintained a presence during recovery efforts.

No injuries were reported.

Wednesday’s fire brought back memories for some residents who were affected by fire on nearby Beeston Street, exactly one year ago on June 29, when gunmen opened gunfire and set houses ablaze.

That incident left 30 persons homeless.

The JFB is investigating the cause of yesterday’s fire.

andre.williams@gleanerjm.com