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Homeless for Christmas
Less than a week before Christmas, a Diego Martin family lost the three-apartment home they had rented for the past 14 years to a suspected electrical fire which started yesterday morning. “We’re homeless,” said 25-year-old Christy Walters, who lived in the upstairs apartment at the top of Charles Avenue on Diego Martin Main Road, with her brother Jason Walters and roommate, Giselle. “It’s a little shocking now to see my house here smouldering, knowing that I have no clothes to change into...I just need to get a hold of everything.”
Christy’s mother Marilyn Walters, grandmother Mary Turner, 83, and uncle Lennard Turner Jr, 56, lived in the apartment downstairs. The fire started around 10 am yesterday in Mary’s bedroom, and engulfed the six-bedroom house within ten minutes. None of the occupants were injured. Mary, Lennard and Giselle were at home at the time, and ran out of the house when they smelt the smoke, still wearing their clothes from the night before.
Lennard, who stood staring at the burning house while wearing only a pair of boxer shorts, asked rhetorically what the family would do for Christmas. “I worrying how we will be spending Christmas, and we have to be looking for a house to rent somewhere,” he said in disbelief. He said they had planned for a quiet holiday, but now there was nowhere to go. “I can’t think of anyone we can go by,” he said as he reached out to his mother, asking where they would go in the meantime.
“I will ask one of my nieces,” Mary said. She said she had lost important personal documents, her identification card, money and several gifts she had bought for the family. Christy looked on incredulously. “Honestly I don’t know what to do now. It’s a funny thing. With all of us, I don’t know where I am sleeping tonight. And I have an exam at 9 in the morning (today)...my last exam for the semester.”
Christy, who is a psychology and criminology major at the University of the West Indies, was on her way to the St Augustine campus to study when she got the call that her home was in flames. “I was on the Priority Bus Route right by Laventille, I jumped out and took another car, and tried to come back home. “I just left home. And then I got the call saying that the house burn down, everything burn down. I really don’t know what to make of this.” She lost her laptop, textbooks and all her clothes.
Looking at her grandmother, she said: “I was worried about you, I didn’t know where you were.” She said she wanted to make sure her dogs were okay. Christy’s roommate Giselle, clad only in pyjamas, was shaking as she watched the firemen put out the flames.
“When I check, I’m thinking it was granny (Mary) cook something and it got really burnt and caught a curtain on fire...I try to look for a means of stopping it but it was too late. I just got my personal documents and tried to save my puppies, but they kept going back upstairs,” she said, crying. “But within ten minutes the house was gone, that was it.” As Mary looked on from outside the front gate, she said she believed the fire was caused by a faulty extension cord she used close to her bed.
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