Teenagers save babies as Pink Lane tenement razed

Staff reporter

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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A cry for help from a little girl alerted 16-year-old Jermaine Brown to the fact that a baby was trapped inside a house as fire engulfed a tenement yard on Pink Lane, downtown Kingston, yesterday afternoon.

“Mi see black smoke a come from the back of the yard, and a likkle girl run out and a cry say her likkle bredda deh inside,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer moments after he had rushed into the burning house to save three-year-old Romeo McFarlane.

The baby's mother, Nadine Thomas, said she had just gone to the commercial hub of the capital city to fetch some items for dinner when she received a phone call from a neighbour telling her that her house was on fire.

“A town mi go and leave dem inna the house. Right now everything gone,” Thomas said.

The mother and her family of four were among approximately 30 people adults and children who were badly affected by the fire which started around 2:15 pm.

Aided by heavy wind, the blaze spread quickly through the closely constructed board structures as people dashed in and out, piling furniture on to the road.

Joshua Davis, acting deputy senior superintendent at the Jamaica Fire Brigade, who was in charge at the scene, said a total of four household structures were completely destroyed by the fire, and three were only partially burnt.

Davis said a child playing with matches inside one of the houses was found to be the cause of the fire and that no lives were lost.

In response to complaints from some residents that the fire brigade did not come to the scene of the blaze with sufficient water, Davis said the fire hydrant inside the community was the only challenge as it had no water.

“We responded with full tanks of water, and we made sure that we had more than one unit so that we wouldn't run out of water. But the hydrant in the community did not have any water,” Davis said.

Teenage boys from the community who were on roofs assisting the firefighters said they, too, rescued other toddlers who had been inside their homes when the fire started.

Fifteen-year-old Shamar Thompson said he and his friends were next door when they saw black smoke coming from the yard.

“Wi start tek out all a di baby dem, and carry dem outside,” the youngster explained. “From before the firefighter dem come wi a try tek out di furniture dem and then we start catch up water,” he continued.

Nickiesha Nelson, another mother whose house was completely destroyed, said she had gone to a shop to get “a piece of salt fish” when she heard the cries alerting the community to the blaze.

“Me and my three children dem and my babyfather live [together]. All mi coulda save was my baby documents and some of my other children documents,” Nelson said, brandishing a knapsack carrying the only items she managed to grab from her house.

Sixty-four-year-old Cynthia Myers said she was at home cleaning her refrigerator when her grandson came running with the news that there was a fire next door.

“By the time mi run go look the fire spread to our part. Wi save some things, but mostly everything gone. All mi fridge burn up,” Myers said, tears streaming down her face.

Yesterday's fire revived memories of a blaze that razed a house at the intersection of Pink Lane and Beeston Street last December, claiming the life of six-year-old Davinee Smith.

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