Fire-hit families in Point have been left counting the cost of the damage after Thursday night’s devastating blaze which destroyed several homes.
The fire broke out shortly after 7.30pm on lower St George’s Street and is thought to have started on the top floor of a two-storey property.
Fire Chief Elvis Weaver told Observer yesterday that at least four homes had been totally destroyed and two more damaged, describing the incident as a “rough time” for his team.
Weaver also took the opportunity to respond to claims on social media that firefighters had arrived with no water in their trucks.
“There were some water challenges at first,” he conceded. “The fire truck from All Saints only carries 369 gallons and the water ran out naturally.
“Soon after, a water truck came to assist and eventually two more water trucks – one from the port and one from a private gentleman who committed to working with us.
“So we had water challenges at first but I want to set the record straight that the Fire Department would never respond to any fire without water.
“Any water truck will eventually run out once it’s a big fire – whether you have 1,000 gallons, 2,000 gallons or 500,” he explained.
A truck from Coolidge also attended the scene, Weaver said.
He did confirm, however, that firefighters tackling the flames had attempted to refill using a nearby hydrant which had no water supply.
“It is something that is not unusual; not every hydrant that you see around Antigua has water in it,” the Fire Chief said.
He added that there were no reports of injuries, either to residents or firefighters.
Meanwhile, pledges of help from the community have flooded in in the aftermath of the disaster.
Numerous posts on social media yesterday extended offers of assistance to the victims.
Dr Jacqui Quinn, former Member of Parliament and President of the Concerned Citizens group, told Observer last night that the body had spent Friday making contact with the affected residents to assess their needs.
“We are doing our best to find accommodation for those who don’t have it with families, and address some of the immediate needs, such as clothing, baby food and bottles for a seven-month-old baby girl and clothing for a 10-year-old boy,” she explained.
“We are trying to find places to stay for the victims for at least a few days, maybe a week or two.
“So we’re appealing to the business community, to those who have accommodation that’s not occupied right now – hotels, bed and breakfasts, apartment units – that can take in these persons who have been displaced by the fire.”
Some of those affected were forced to spend Thursday night sleeping on benevolent neighbours’ floors and couches, Dr Quinn said.
“Concerned Citizens has been working and getting a lot of support from people who have been calling and pledging assistance,” she added. “There’s been an outpouring of love from across the community.”
Fire Chief Weaver said the cause of the blaze remains under investigation.