Westmoreland fire victims plead for helpTuesday, July 20, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland – A family of nine, left displaced after fire destroyed their house in Lamb's River just over one week ago, is appealing for assistance to get back on their feet.
“We would appreciate anything. It was a six-bedroom house and everything is gone,” Angela Higgins-Cormack told the Jamaica Observer.
According to Higgins-Cormack, some community members have already pledged their assistance but more help is needed.
She said six adults and three children occupied the dwelling and the older children, aged 11 and 13, are not taking the loss well.
“I do not know how the two of them are taking it because it is the 13-year-old girl who was apparently playing with the fire, whatever she did, she would have been the one who caused it, and her younger brother is upset with her because she caused him to lose everything, so we will need to take them to counselling,” said Higgings-Cormack, a teacher at the Mount Hermon Primary and Infant School in the parish.
Higgings-Cormack told the Observer that she was seated at the dining table with her husband on the morning of July 10, when the smell of paper being burnt caught her attention.
“It was just about 10:30 am, and we just had breakfast. My husband and I were [sitting] and talking when I smelled what appeared to be paper burning. I asked who was burning paper, but I didn't get an answer, so I looked in the kitchen and there were no activities there, but it still smelled like somebody had lit garbage,” she said.
“My husband went into our bedroom just in time to see the partition between two adjoining rooms on fire. By then, what I could do was just [grab] my handbag and throw it outside. There were also a few other things that were on the bed, and I just threw them outside. Fortunately for me I had my passport and [other] important items that I got to save, like my husband's billfold, so his cards were saved but all the other documents were destroyed,” added Higgings-Cormack.
The family's attempt to save their house was unsuccessful as they were operating without running water and electricity.
“My husband called on me to turn on the pipe at the verandah, we had a pipe at the verandah with a garden hose attached, so I turned it on but there was no water. He then asked me to plug in the [water] pump. It was just inside the room so I could just plug it in, but when I plugged it in there was no [electricity], so in less than two minutes the place was engulfed in flames and smoke, so we had to run out.”
Higgings-Cormack said the family members are grateful for escaping the fire without injuries but is constantly reminded of the tragedy as they “bunk” with her brother.
“My brother has an unfinished house in the same yard, so we are all staying there and just taking it one day at a time,” said Higgings-Cormack as she appealed for help.
The fire department has estimated loss from the blaze at $15 million. The house was not insured.