Seventy homeless, four dead in fires this yearFriday, September 24, 2021
BY DAINA DAVY
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — Seventy people have lost their homes — mostly structures made of wood and zinc — and four have died as a result of 76 fires in this parish since the start of the year, according to data from the local fire brigade.
The home fires, five more than the corresponding period last year, account for a little over 18 per cent of the 416 fires across Westmoreland to date.
“When a fire starts in these [types of] structures it will spread quicker and easier than a slab roof or a deck house, and this results in people becoming homeless,” explained district officer in the Jamaica Fire Brigade in charge of fire prevention in Westmoreland, Christopher Stone.
“Some of these fires would have been caused by careless use of fire, cooking left unattended, children playing with fire, and [the causes of] some of them are uncertain. We try to sensitise residents as much as possible but sensitisation has been decreased since the start of the pandemic,” he added.
Stone noted that all four deaths from residential fires have been in the Smithfield community.
“We have been having dialogue with the councillor for the Smithfield Division [Dawnette Foster] to have some community training before the end of October,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
For now, the firefighter is appealing to residents of Westmoreland to invest in smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in an effort to reduce the number of fires in the parish.