Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Baby, 3, dies in Sea Lots fire

Instead of planning Javier de Freitas’ fourth birthday party next month, his relatives are now instead preparing for his funeral after he was killed in a fire that destroyed the family’s home on Wednesday night.

According to police reports, Bernadine Hepburn, a mother of 13, had retired to her home for the night along with her children, when she was awakened by loud crackling noises. Upon looking up she observed fire on the roof of the home.

Hepburn raised an alarm and made efforts to have all her children evacuated from the burning building. However, it was only when the family was outside doing a head count, that they realised young Javier was missing. Hepburn attempted to run back into the house to find the toddler, however, the fire had spread quickly which prevented her from re-entering the home.

The police and fire services were notified, and a party of officers from the Besson Street Police Station, the Inter Agency Task Force, visited the scene.

Quick work by residents in the area who formed several bucket brigades resulted in the fire being “mostly contained” by the time the fire services arrived.

Speaking to the media yesterday, a distraught Hepburn said she blamed herself for the death of her three-year-old son, whom she described as a very loving, but soft-spoken child. She recalled she was sleeping at the time the fire took place, and the flames spread quicker than she believed was possible.

“I was sleeping in my bed when the fire started. The fellas (neighbours) say it ain’t take more than a minute for the roof to be engulfed in flames. I wake up to the fire, and I had to rush out my kids. And when we realise Javier was missing, I try to go in and get him, but I couldn’t make with the heat. I could have done more. I just standing here now and all I can think is that I could have done more to save him,” an emotional Hepburn said.

The grieving mother said her only consolation that night was that the Sea Lots community stood as a family, as neighbours did everything in their power to contain the blaze and to try to save the toddler.

“The neighbours came in and break down the house. They form a bucket brigade and extinguish the fire before the fire services even arrived. They burst the pipe line and all. Men and women, all these young boys in the area, were standing on the roof of their homes and throwing water down onto mine. They did everything they could for Javier, they really did,” she said.

Hepburn also explained her family had lost everything in the fire and she didn’t know where they would all be spending the next few nights.

“Everything I have, I worked hard for, and now it is all lost. I never went to any Government to ask for help, because you know the first thing they would tell you is that you making children and can’t mind them. So I never went. Everything these kids had, everything I owned in this house I worked hard for. And I lost it all, including my son, and it hurts. It hurts so much.

“I wish someone could do something to help me, because I have nowhere for them to sleep. Even if it is just to put up one room, I will try to help myself again, just like before. I just need that initial start,” Hepburn said.