A doubles vendor and neighbours are being hailed as heroes for the role they played in trying to save the lives of two children from a raging fire at a house in Maraval yesterday morning.
Three children—Ezekiel Burke, 17, Faith Burke, six, and Kayden Burke, three,—perished in the fire in the house which had been secured by burglar-proofing and prevented their escape. However, siblings Janiceia, 15, and Kiseane, 13, were rescued.
The doubles man told the Express in a phone interview yesterday, while he was relieved the two children were saved, he would be forever haunted by the three who died.
He is Paul, 54, from Diego Martin, and he has been selling doubles in that area for over ten years. “I really don’t like the publicity thing,” he said in requesting that his last name not be published.
He explained, however, that in the ten years he has been selling in the area he and the other doubles vendors got to know the family very well.
He said they often relied on the family to have their phones charged as well as being allowed access for emergency bathroom breaks. The only payment the family wanted was doubles, he said.
He recalled at 6.30 a.m. he and two other employees of Darren’s Doubles had begun setting up their cart at a corner near Royal Bank off Saddle Road, Maraval.
Around 7.30 a.m. while attending to a customer they all heard a loud “boom”.
“When I spin around I saw the whole house on fire,” he said.
“Something made me grab a long-wheel spanner and I just ran straight down to the back where the house is and I saw one of the boys (Ezekiel Burke) trying to squeeze under the burglar-proofing.
“I asked where are the other children and he said in the bedroom,” said Paul.
He said he then tried to enter the house via a kitchen door.
Paul said he and others were able to breach the door but as they did a back-draught of flames shot out at them. “The whole kitchen was on fire,” he said.
He said he and the other rescuers then tried accessing the house through its burglar-proofed windows.
“I saw a piece of pipe on the ground and then I got a water hose from the security in Royal Bank and then I tried wetting the boy (Ezekiel Burke) and then we tried to prise open the burglar-proofing with a pigfoot but yuh hearing him and the children and them screaming,” he said.
“Two of the bigger girls got out. We broke them out,” he said.
Asked if he feared for his own life, Paul replied, “All I was concerned about was them because every day we see them so I didn’t think about my own life at all everything happened so fast.”
“You really don’t see the neighbours and them out there every day but this morning (yesterday) they came out and everyone who was there put a hand and tried to do something. We really tried and I wanted to do more to save the children and them life,” he said.
“Right now I am studying the mother and father because we all go down good and they lost everything,” he added.
He said that while still in shock he had some time to think.
“Life is so precious because the way how some people live they should realise that fighting and bickering have no place and we have to live in more unity because a tragedy can happen to anyone anywhere and the person yuh vexed with today may be the only one who can help you tomorrow,” he said.