Eight people are now homeless following a fire at Gully Road, Rices, St Philip this afternoon.
According to one of the victims, 63-year-old retired nurse Maria Clarke, it was as a result of an explosion which occurred in the kitchen of her four-bedroom wood and wall home, which she shared with her husband and three other family members.
“The frying oil just pop up and they couldn’t reach the fire extinguisher,” explained the homeowner, whose uninsured dwelling had a bar and grill attached. She said the gas tank subsequently exploded and “then the whole thing went up in a blaze”.
“They couldn’t save nothing. Then the other two big cylinders [gas tanks] explode as well,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Her 64-year-old husband Caspar Clarke said he was a short distance away when he noticed smoke coming from his home.
“Just as I turned the corner, is when I see [it] and I say, ‘[Expletive] don’t tell me that kitchen on fire’. Then I parked there [in front of the house] and take up the hose but that wasn’t any help after the gas bottle explode. That was fuel for the fire,” he said, adding that “all that was going through my mind was trying to see what I could do, but it was a waste of time. There is nothing saved. We just have to build it back,” he added, while noting that all of their worthy possessions were lost in the 1.p.m. blaze.
Another victim, 67-year-old Merlene Austin, whose home was severely damaged, told Barbados TODAY she was rudely awakened from her afternoon nap.
“I was having a rest and smoke woke me up. All I was able to grab was my phone because the smoke was intense, so when I came out the house above me was in flames and there was a lot of cracking and crying,” she said.
Also overcome with emotion, Austin said it was difficult for her to watch her home, which she shared with her daughter and granddaughter, go up in flames.
“I was so distraught, I was bawling for murder and I walked from here [at the scene of the fire] and went all around Rices road and came back when the Fire Service came,” she explained.
Fortunately, her wood and wall home was insured. However, she was only able to salvage a few of her possessions from the badly burnt structure.
“The fire officials came late. When [they] got here that house was already burnt,” she said, pointing to her neighbour’s house, before suggesting that had the fire team, which included seven fire officers and two tenders, arrived just five minutes later, “mine would have been worse than it is”.
Leading Fire Officer Franklin confirmed that by the time they arrived the flames had already engulfed the Clarkes’ home and had spread next door to Austin’s dwelling.
However, the retiree said that she was putting her faith in God to get her through this rough patch.
“I serve a living God. He has brought me this far. He told me to have confidence in him and I do have confidence in him that he will rebuild for me and will keep me. I don’t know if it is going to affect me emotionally eventually, but right now I am trying to stand up and trying to be good,” she told Barbados TODAY.