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Dickrun Herbert tries to salvage pieces of galvanise, after four houses including his own was burnt to the ground at Erin Beach, Erin.

When Dickrun Herbert heard his niece’s screams, his first thought was about his ailing Mother Annie, who has not been able to walk for years.

Despite the heat of flames that surrounded him, the 30-year-old fisherman rushed to the front house where Annie was still asleep. Through the thick black smoke, he dragged his mother out of the house, to safety.

When Guardian Media visited what remained of their home at 42 Street in Erin yesterday, Herbert was thankful that no life was lost. But all that was left of the four homes that the family of 12 occupied were burnt galvanised sheets, broken concrete, twisted bed frames and ashes. What little wood was left, continued to burn up to midday.

Herbert said everyone had gone to bed and it was around 2 am when he heard his niece shouting fire. Annie’s home near the roadside was ablaze with her still asleep inside.

Herbert described his mother as a heavy woman, who he had to hold by her arm and drag outside.

“When I ran outside and came by the front door, my mother was still inside the house. I pulled her out, put her on a bench and we tried to out the fire. We could not, so we out another one. But that was it; everything burned down,” Herbert said.

Hendrickson Hospedales, who was at the time loading fish from a pirogue near the shore, said he heard an explosion before seeing the houses on fire. He said he ran across and broke a pipe to a tank, and began filling buckets of water to extinguish the blaze.

Within minutes, the fire spread to Herbert sisters’ homes.

With little left to do, Hospedales said he threw water on the neighbouring property and threw sand on it to avoid further damage.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined and Herbert said none of the houses had an electrical connection and were all in darkness.

His mother, sisters, nieces and nephews are all staying with relatives, but he said they will soon need somewhere to go.

For him, his livelihood is fishing, so he plans to stay near the sea. However, he is hoping that help arrives so they can rebuild their homes soon.