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Granny dies in Mon Repos fire

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Fire victim Anita Eli, 78, of San Fernando, being hugged by her grand-daughter Natessa Alexander.

Screams of anguish echoed through the Mon Repos community, San Fernando, yesterday morning as relatives and neighbours tried in vain to rescue Anita Elie, a mother of six, from her burning house. Fate dealt a tragic blow to her family yesterday as they were forced to watch the 79-year-old former sales clerk burn to death as her feeble knees could not take her  to an open window where help awaited. Instead, she fell to the floor as the fire caved in the roof of her home. According to Mon Repos firefighters, they arrived shortly after 8 am and found relatives and neighbours at the back of the house using buckets and a hose to extinguish the blaze. After it was doused, they found the body of Elie on the floor, burnt beyond recognition. The fire was somewhat of a mystery since officers said there were no open flames or flammable substances in the room and the only electrical appliance there was a new fan. Only Elie’s bedroom was destroyed but heat and smoke caused swelling on some of the walls in the house which was renovated early last year.


Seven people lived in the house and according to Elie’s grand-daughter, WPC Natessa Alexander, the house was rewired recently and a PVC ceiling installed. Alexander said she was asleep when she was awakened by her father Michael Joseph’s cries for help. By the time she saw the fire, it was too late to enter the room from inside the house. “I heard my father bawling and when I came outside, I saw the room ablaze. I went outside and I saw some neighbours so I told them to call the Fire Services. We ran to the back of the house and we tried to out the fire. It spread around that room and the ceiling started to fall,”Alexander said. Next door neighbour, Matthew Pierre, said he rushed out of his home with a wet blanket after hearing schoolchildren shouting that the house was on fire. Pierre, 37, a tradesman, said it was only when Elie attempted to move he knew she was on the bed.

He added: “I ran out of my house with my blanket and I dipped it in a barrel of water and ran in the house to assist but her grand-daughter stopped me. We couldn’t go in any further because it was already engulfed in flames so we went around to the back and we started to out the fire from through the window. “We had a hose, bucket, basin, bathtub and there were about five of us neighbours and family helping. While outing the fire, I looked inside the house and saw that she was on the bed. She attempted the come off and she fell between the bed and the wall. She remained right there and burned to a crisp.” A team of officers, led by Insp James and ASP Mohammed ,processed the scene but did not find the cause of the fire. However, fire prevention officers are continuing their investigation. Relatives said because Elie had suffered a stroke recently and had diabetes and hypertension, she had to hold onto furniture to get around the house. Alexander took solace that her grandmother was a God-fearing person and she was happy before she went to sleep on Sunday night.

Alexander said: “I know she was a God-fearing person. She always had an answer for everything you ask. She was just cool when I spoke to her last night. These days she was sleeping late so when I got up yesterday she was asleep. “I was going out last night so I went to check on her and I realised she was up. I said ‘granny how you going’ and she spun around and said ‘I there’ with a big broad smile. She was happy when I saw her.” It was second fire in three days in Mon Repos and San Fernando mayor Kazim Hosein said the city was in need of prayers. On Saturday night, 51-year-old paraplegic Steve Brown dragged himself away from his burning home after he lit a candle which ignited his wooden house. After expressing condolences to family members, Hosein said: “We have lost another mother in the community and I see a need for a day of prayers in San Fernando. Too many murders and fires. It is really sad and this is not the way it used to be. “I want to contact the Inter-Religious Organisation today and asked them to come on the promenade and invite the community of San Fernando to pray for San Fernando and the nation. We need to be a more God-fearing society.” 


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