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Pensioner saves disabled women, child from fire
Pensioner Michael Steeling was hailed as a hero by villagers of Penal yesterday after he ran into his neighbour’s burning house and rescued two handicapped women and a young child. The fire started around 8 am at the home of Ivy Leotaud, 84, located at Penal Rock Road. Leotaud, who is bedridden, started to bawl when the flames began licking the back bedroom of her home. Her daughter, Sandra Lutchman, and great grandson, Ravi Deonarine, were also in the building when the fire started.
Investigators believe it might have been an electrical problem which caused the fire. Recalling the trauma, Steeling said he was at home when his wife shouted to him that “Miss Ivy’s” house was on fire.
“When I got there the flames were intense. I just ran and picked up Miss Ivy and take her outside because she cannot walk. I put her to sit on the road,” Steeling recalled. He then went into the house a second time and with the assistance of another neighbour brought Lutchman and Ravi to safety.
Steeling said the family’s seven-seater van was parked in the garage and he asked Lutchman for the keys.
“She told me that it was in her purse. We broke down the door and got the purse and then we drove the van out of the garage,” Steeling said. Lutchman’s sister, Gloria Soomarah, said Lutchman was so frustrated she wanted to die in the house before Steeling rescued her. “Just yesterday she was diagnosed with diabetes and she just could not take anymore. She wanted to burn and die in the house,” Soomarah wept. She explained that six people, including Lutchman, her grandchildren, Ravi and Rajiv, aged three and five respectively, as well as her husband, Motilal Lutchman, were now homeless.
Lutchman, in a brief interview, said the fire had ruined her Christmas spirit.
She said she already was depressed despite the joyous season because of her health complications.
In a bid to cheer her up, Lutchman said her daughters, Kimberly Deonarine and Amelia Neranjan, cleaned the house for Christmas over the weekend. “They were planning to come over to my house on Christmas Day but now my house is gone,” Lutchman said. She said her crutches, which were her only means of mobility, were destroyed in the fire. Fire officers responded in record time to the fire and were able to prevent it from spreading to other homes. Police were unable to give an estimate of the damage.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, although relatives speculate that it could have started because of an electrical malfunction. Anyone wanting to assist the family can contact Deonarine at 647-9155. Investigations are continuing.
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