Sat | Dec 14, 2019

SOS Children’s Village wards escape fire

Published:Saturday | November 16, 2019 | 12:27 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Sixty-four wards and 14 caregivers of the SOS Children’s Village in Barrett Town, St James, all escaped unharmed from a fire that broke out at the facility on Thursday night. The blaze was reportedly caused by an electrical shortage.

The fire was confined to a section of a residential dorm at the rear of the property and resulted in minor damage.

Floyd McLean, assistant commissioner for the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s Area Four Division, praised the quick action of the wards and caregivers in assisting to put out the blaze.

“The fire was extinguished partly by us, because they (the wards and caregivers) were doing some things to help themselves before we arrived, based on the kind of interaction and training they would have gotten from us,” said McLean.

“Everybody came out scratch-free, and our emergency medical technicians were there to ensure that no one was suffering from smoke inhalation.”

Ray Gregory, the interim director for the SOS Children’s Villages in Jamaica, told The Gleaner that the facility’s occupants were prepared for emergencies from frequent fire drills.

“The youngsters who were in the house [were] evacuated and the bigger boys, with some of the staff, went back, using extinguishers and water until the fire brigade arrived and carried out firefighting and cooling-down operations,” said Gregory.

The fire comes on the heels of a recent public appeal for funds to support the facility, after its international donor, SOS Kinderdorf International, decided to reroute funding to Africa and Asia. The call was made during a corporate fundraising breakfast in Montego Bay earlier this week.

“We are approaching a point where our major donor, SOS Kinderdorf International, has slated us pretty much for self-sufficiency. We went on the self-sufficient cluster in 2015, and it means that yearly, we would have been losing subsidy at a rate of five per cent,” Gregory told guests at the fundraiser.

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