While most children would scream and run away from the sight of fire consuming their home, 11-year-old Jarell King was convinced that he could have saved his family’s house in Sobo Village, La Brea on Tuesday.
Jarrel, the eldest of Lydia and Gerard King’s three children, had already started filling a bucket of water when he alerted his grandmother Nell Henry about the fire which ignited in his parent’s bedroom.
But instead of risking the lives of her and her grandchildren, Henry ushered Jarell, his brother Jaydon, six and Jenay, four, out of the house and called for help.
The fire spreading throughout the house in mere minutes and the family of five was left with only the clothes on their backs and the worry of recovering from their loss.
Lydia, Gerard and their cousin Lyndon Garvin, who were at work when the blaze began, all returned home in a rush, only to find ruins of their home.
According to Henry’s daughter, Nelliene Henry, the house was a family home where her mother and other relatives grew up. However, they moved out some time ago.
Her mother runs the parlour in front of the house and would take care of the children when they return home from school. Nelliene said that it was around 3.50 pm and the children had just returned from school when Henry sent them inside the house to change their clothes and return to the parlour to get something to eat.
Jarrel went into the parlour but was sent back to the house to retrieve his younger siblings when he noticed that his parents’ bed was on fire. Jarrel called out to his grandmother, who ran inside and saw the bedroom ablaze.
“Mommy ran inside and all she saw was light in the bedroom. She took off the main breaker and tried to get the children out. Jarell was convinced he could have put out the fire and he had a bucket filling with water. But she took them out. By the time she ran toward the living room, the glass on the windows started to shatter and the ceiling started coming down. She ran in the road and started to bawl for help,” Nelliene said.
Neighbours, even those whom the family were not close with, rushed into the road and formed a bucket brigade in an effort to extinguish the fire.
But the wooden and concrete structure was already consumed and the fire started to spread to Henry’s parlour. The volunteers turned their attention to the parlour and had to pull down part of the burning roof on the house for a successful save. By the time Point Fortin firefighters arrived 30 minutes later, the house was already destroyed.
Garvin said his boss called him shortly after 4 pm to inform him of the fire at his home. By the time he got home, there was only rubble.
He said the family was trying to build the ground floor of the house before the fire, but is now hoping to reconstruct the home he knew since childhood.
“I was shocked when I reach home. Everything was gone in less than 30 minutes,” Garvin said. Fire prevention officers returned to the scene yesterday investigating the cause of the fire, but relatives suspect it was caused by an electrical malfunction.
The family was not able to save anything and was left with only the clothes on their backs.
Jarrel, a pupil of the Vance River RC Primary School, is expected to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment in March and along with his brother, has lost school uniforms and books.
Local government councillor for Brighton/Vessigny Gerald Debesette said through the Siparia Regional Corporation, the family was given forms to fill out, which together with a report from the Fire Service, they can take to the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services to access clothing and a grant purchase household items.
Debesette said the National Commission for Self Help can also grant between $15,000-$25,000 towards rebuilding their home. He said that he contacted La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre and her office is expected to assist the children with the replacement of their school books and uniforms.
- by Kevon Felmine