By Latrishka Thomas
The Chief Fire Officer has refuted claims that a fire tender from the All Saints Fire Station arrived on the scene of a major house fire in Sea View Farm early Saturday morning devoid of water.
“The All Saints Fire Station, they received the call at about 25 minutes after two, and they got there in about five to seven minutes,” Assistant Commissioner Elvis Weaver said as he debunked the report that was broadcast on state media on Saturday.
“When they arrived there, this house — there’s also a shop close by – [they] were totally engulfed in flames. There was a lot of live electrical wires hanging from a post nearby and they [firefighters] had make sure that there were no occupants in the house. They were waiting on APUA to come and disconnect the electricity.
“There [were] no challenges with water; none whatsoever, and it’s very unfortunate. I know you may have heard something on [state media] that fire truck arrived without water. I want to make it clear, absolutely clear that never would a fire truck arrive at the scene without water. That is impossible.”
Around 2:30 am on Saturday, a Seaview Farm family of six was displaced after a fire destroyed their home, business and two vehicles.
During an interview with state media, the Member of Parliament for the All Saints West Constituency, Michael Browne, reported that the fire truck had to go to a pond in Lightfoot to collect water to extinguish the major blaze.
“We are happy that no lives were lost, but at the same time there’s a certain amount of frustration of my fellow constituents, my fellow villagers, because an electrical fire started and after the electrical fire, we call the fire tender in All Saints and on arriving on the scene, it didn’t have any water. What compounded the problem even more was that the water was not running so residents from around who tried to get water to assist the situation, you know, it was compounded even more,” Browne said.
Meanwhile, Alphonsine Bleau, a non-resident member of the family told OBSERVER media that “the fire truck took at least three hours to [put] out the fire”.
“Because of the high wind, there was no water running in the village that even if there was a fire hydrant, there was no water so that you keep going to the pond at the factory. So, by time they would leave the fire that they tried to tame and come back, the wind would have picked it up and they had to fight all over again. So, it took three to about three and a half hours to extinguish the fire,” Bleau told OBSERVER on Saturday.
But Weaver maintained that the firefighters efforts were delayed “because there were live electrical wires hanging around and we don’t want no fire officers to get electrocuted while carrying out their duties. So, they waited until APUA came and took off the current and then firefighting operations commenced.”
He added that due to the extreme nature of the fire, the truck had to be refilled but not at a pond as has been reported by state media and Bleau.
“There were also two trucks from St John’s that came to help out the situation so there were adequate amounts of water, but you must understand that water will finish, water must run out. The fire was a very big fire and eventually the water truck from St John’s had to go and replenish and we don’t we replenish our trucks with pond water; that’s another erroneous statement. The truck went down to Belmont by a hydrant and got water.
“After a while, the All Saints fire truck ran out of water, they went on to Signcom by Transport Board there and they got water by a hydrant there. So, there was never a water issue.”
The fire chief further said that the trucks are inspected every morning to ensure that all the equipment are in place and all the tanks are filled prior to attending to a fire.
The house which was gutted in the fire was occupied by four adults and two children. One of the male occupants reportedly suffered burns while he was rescuing one of the children from the burning building.