Sun | Sep 27, 2020

Late-night blaze leaves 20 homeless

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2020 | 12:29 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Residents survey the damage to homes and other property on Tuesday after fire swept through premises at James Street in central Kingston the night before. Twenty people were left homeless.
Residents survey the damage to homes and other property on Tuesday after fire swept through premises at James Street in central Kingston the night before. Twenty people were left homeless.

A late-night fire in central Kingston on Monday has left close to 20 persons, including children, homeless and one auto mechanic in debt as the blaze scorched three cars customers entrusted to his care.

The fire was reported to have started around 11 p.m.

Yesterday, a Gleaner news team visited the premises at 45 James Street, commonly referred to by residents as ‘Big Yard’, to find some of those displaced, still trying to come to terms with the tragedy, sharing that they saved nothing.

All the dwellings on the property were made of wood and zinc.

Leonard Bernard, who operates his mechanic shop at the premises, shared that he was on his way to Harbour View when a phone call alerted him to the destruction unfolding.

“They called me and said there is fire at the garage. When I spin back, fire brigade was already here outing the thing. I was told that it started in a building that was located behind one of the cars,” the 61-year-old said.

“The building caught fire then fell on to the car, and a so it catch fire. This was after I already overhauled the transmission.”

Bernard said that he had overhauled the engine of a Toyota Corolla, worth approximately $500,000, which was burnt to its core.

The other two cars were badly damaged. Bernard estimated total damage to his business to be about $3.5 million.

“I have to buy back the cars. Two of the owners know, but one of them doesn’t know. Me and them have to have a serious talk. If I can’t give them everything one time, I do it when I can.”

Forty-six-year-old Sonia Williams, who lives on the property, had luck on her side, as the fire only caused minor burn marks to the exterior of her wooden house. Though her neighbours bore the worst of the fire’s rage, she did not escape the fright and anxiety as caused by the ravaging fire.

“Mi inna mi house a lay down and hear people a bawl out, ‘Fire, come out! Come out.’ When me come out, mi see di blaze. Same time me start grab water and wet up the place till the two fire trucks came and start work,” Williams told The Gleaner.

“Everybody stress out and take it hard. Nobody cyaa sleep.”

jason.cross@gleanerjmcom