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‘Back to zero’

Retiree seeks help to rebuild house after fire

Published:Thursday | May 11, 2023 | 12:16 AMSashana Small/Staff Reporter
Basil Davis
Basil Davis

BASIL DAVIS’ voice was punctuated by sighs of distress as he recalled the day last December, when his eight-bedroom board house in Cottage Pen, St Thomas, burned down.

The 66-year-old retired merchandiser recalls how he was about to take a shower, when he was alerted to smoke coming from one side of his house. Hurriedly, he tried to secure his phone and important documents, but was hampered when a ceiling in the house fell and spread the fire.

He told The Gleaner that he fainted because he was shocked by the incident. By the time he regained consciousness, the house, which he occupied with four tenants, was reduced to ashes, and he lost everything.

He was informed by firefighters that the fire started after one of his tenants left a pot on the fire for a prolonged period.


Five months later, Davis is trying to rebuild. But as the rent he collected from his tenants was his only form of income, things have been very difficult for him financially.

The retiree said he used the last of his savings to start the process of building one bedroom on the property, but with only a few walls up, the building has stalled.

“It’s like mi cyaa go no more, ‘cause a right ya suh it stop. Mi wish it did done and mi get a top, weh mi cudda go in deh, if it not even have no bottom. But dem seh ‘weh it mawga a right deh suh it pop,’” he told The Gleaner.

Now, he sleeps in a room offered to him by a neighbour. But it is only big enough to hold a bed.

Soon after the fire, Davis said he received help from the Red Cross Jamaica with a tarpaulin and was promised assistance from politicians, but that has not been forthcoming.

“All they talk about is just promise, nobody turns up,” he said.

Stressed out, he fell into a state of depression and was twice hospitalised.

“Mi a work from mi a 14-year-old and everything mi try fi earn mi try fi put it to use. Dat mean, mi know seh later down mi did a go seet… Is like it bear and blossom and mi a get fruit from it; but di fire just seh, ‘well, watch ya.’ Nothing nuh left eno, all a yuh earnings. All a weh mi cudda show seh ‘dis is when mi deh MoBay, dis is when mi deh Portland…nothing, absolute nothing,” he said.

The father of four says his children are “on their own”, and unable to help.

Telling The Gleaner that he feels like he is “back to zero”, Davis is appealing for help to rebuild his house.

“It is real tough,” he said. “The only thing I save from the fire is my passport, TRN, and mi ID … . A wouldn’t mind seh mi house build back.”

To help Basil Davis, call him at 8764099191.