Scratch bomb and fireworks play for children in the Mc Bean, Couva community on Divali night ended up in tragedy for three families after two of their houses burst into flames destroying everything.
Nine people are now homeless, including four children – a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old.
The victims are Michael Rampersad, 61, his sons Roger, 37 and Jimmy, 36; Jimmy’s wife Videya Lalla, 34 and their four children ages seven, 10, 12 and 13 and Lalla’s brother Darly Ramnarace.
The incident took place at Baksh Settlement Extension 1, off Deonarine Junction.
Speaking with the T&T Guardian after the incident, a distraught Jimmy said that at about 6.45 pm he was at home with one of his sons when neighbours called out to him saying his father’s upholstery workshop was on fire.
“Within minutes even though I tried to throw water, the fire quickly spread and burnt everything to the ground. The two houses completely destroyed and everything with it. I really couldn’t save anything,” Jimmy said.
He said there were lots of children in the area playing with scratch bombs and fireworks and it is believed that one of them threw a scratch bomb and it landed in his father’s workshop and when it burst the flames caught the material on fire. He said there were a lot of combustible items in the workshop, including chemicals and glue, which he believes fed the flames.
“My father lived here for all his life. We all grew up here. He worked from here and earned his living, now everything has gone up in flames,” Jimmy said.
Jimmy’s wife Videya said this incident was a double whammy for her, as she lost a cousin in an accident in Claxton Bay on Monday morning.
“Because of the death in the family we could not have celebrated Divali, but my husband still lit one deya in the living room and I was just picked up to go temple and not even five minutes after I left home my son called me to say the house on fire.”
Videya said just in January this year she and her husband had built their home and moved in there and had bought everything new and on hire purchase.
“Everything gone… everything burnt … we have nothing…all my children’s school uniforms and books, clothes – every single thing destroyed,” the distraught mother added.
Her oldest daughter is a pupil of the Carapichaima East Secondary School, while the other three are pupils of the Mc Bean Hindu Primary School.
The fire victims all slept at a friend’s house overnight and are now seeking help. Anyone wishing to help the family can call them at 318-4527, 487-2999 and/or 369-2319.
Couva South MP Rudy Indarsingh visited the family soon after the fire and contacted the Disaster Management Unit at the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation in an attempt to get assistance for them. Councillor Allan Seepersad also visited the family.
Fire prevention officers are expected to return to the scene today to carry out further investigations.