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Barrackpore family homeless after fire

Monday, April 14, 2014
Suroogdaye Ramdass, second from left, looks on as her son Riyad Roshan, left, sifts through the ruins following a fire which destroyed their home at Congo Hill, Barrackpore, on Saturday. Photo: RISHI RAGOONATH

Seeta Ramdass had to work on her 53rd birthday. The seamstress’ day got much worse when she got home. Her family’s home had burned to the ground. On Saturday, the Barrackpore family of eight, including four children, were left searching for a place to rest their heads for the night until Tableland/Moruga MP Clifton De Coteau offered them temporary lodging at a house in Lengua Village, Princes Town.



According to reports, the family’s home caught fire after 2 pm, when burning leaves from a bush fire ignited their concrete and wooden house. At the time, no one was at home. By the time firefighters from the Mon Repos station arrived, the house was already flattened. According to Ramdass’ son Anil Ramjattan, the loss was further compounded by the death of the family’s Rottweiler, Darkie, who was burnt to a crisp in her kennel. Ramjattan said a neighbour tried to rescue to dog, but suffered burns on his forearm.


Ramdass said, “I was at work at Vistabella, making a baby basinet for my boss when my son called me and told me our house was one fire. When I came home, everything was gone.” A thyroid cancer survivor for 28 years, she said they have lost furniture, appliances, tools and all their clothes in the house and will need help to repurchase those items. Her eldest son, Riad Marcano, said all the adults were at work and his children were staying with in-laws.


“The house was already on the ground, there was nothing else to save because one of our neighbours had already got burnt trying to save the dog. When I came, the fire brigade was already putting out the fire. T&TEC and police were there,” he said. Pointing to a bamboo patch in the distance, Marcano said neighbours told him the bush fire was started by a villager who wanted to clear his land to plant crops. 



“I had all my tools inside there and money for my daughter who suffers with three pin holes in her heart. The money was there in case she got sick, I could use it at a private doctor or hospital.” Marcano said he was on the verge of opening his own welding shop at their home and was in the process of registering his business. However, he said all the equipment that he had recently purchased was destroyed.


Visiting the family yesterday, MP for Naparima Nizam Baksh said he has already contacted the Commission for Self Help to help with rebuilding the family’s home. He said on Wednesday councillor Brian Julian and volunteers from the Penal/ Debe Regional Corporation will start work on a two-bedroom home for the family.


Commenting on the bush fire, Baksh said: “It is an indiscriminate thing when people do that, especially when the weather is dry like this. Everything burns. People should give second thoughts when they want to set fires, even throwing cigarette butts on the roadside when they are travelling, because that starts fires as well.”


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