Tears sprung to his eyes as Newlin “Apple” Fortune watched the house of his neighbour Rupert Chandler on fire around midday Monday.
The fire occured at Twelfth Street , Barataria.
Seated on a wall, Fortune said: “I thought Gloria (St Louis) was making a small fire. But when I looked out I saw the other neighbours. Everybody saying their house on fire. The wife was hysterical. She was screaming. She was uncontrollable. She fainted. I felt sad...helpless. They are nice, humble people. They didn't deserve such a cruel blow.”
Pointing in the direction of a peach house, Fortune said: “She across the road by some neighbours.”
In the background, the roof was ablaze. Smoke billowed. Debris wafted in the hot atmosphere. The place felt hot as Hades. The leaves on the avocado tree trembled. People scrambled onto the pavement as the fire tenders entered the area. Immediately, fire officers set to work; hauling out their hoses, and proceeding to extinguish the fire. A senior officer instructed everyone to “move further down for your safety.” More media personnel trickled in. An ashen-faced young woman was escorted by some police officers to the peach house.
Shading from the torrid midday sun, under a mango tree, Gloria St Louis added, “I saw smoke. I came out the house. I saw the house on fire. I felt so sad. It is not so easy. It really shake me up. They are nice, quiet people. They always say “hello”.
St Louis said her sister Ann works for the family on weekends.
“I have been trying to contact her. She would be so sad. She is their friend.”
Meanwhile, neighbours and employees from the nearby chemical shop looked on helplessly as the conflagration raged. They huddled in groups and labelled the fire “a tragedy.” Most people agreed it was “really sad” and “a horrible start to the New Year.”
Curtis Sealey had just popped by St Dominic's RC School to drop off lunches when she saw the smoke and commotion.
Sealey said: “It looking as though they lost real money. It's a good thing, they had a steel roof. Had it been a wooden roof, it would have been over already. It's so sad.”
Another gentleman, who has been a Barataria resident for 37 years, said: “The fire hydrants are not working. They are never stopping by to check the hydrants.”Later on, a woman in a red business suit slipped through the gate of her home. She appeared stressed. She cupped her mouth when she saw the fierce fire. She spoke to a young man who had a garden hose in his hand, and, was wetting the wall which was bounding Rupert's home.
Up till press time, Gloria St Louis said: “I spoke to Ann. She was by Rupert's daughter. Somewhere in Chaguanas. Ann is sad. The tenders are still on the spot. They had to go up on the roof and make a hole to get in and hose down the fire. It had a lot of smoke and fire. It's real pressure.”