Up in flames

Fire destroys six homes off Balfour Avenue

An elderly woman was taken to hospital yesterday afternoon after a fire ripped through a portion of Jennie Street, off Balfour Avenue, destroying six houses and damaging four others.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force’s Fire Services Division said it received reports of a structural fire shortly before 3 p.m.

When the first fire engine arrived on the scene, firefighters reportedly met several structures engulfed in flames.

Firefighters began to extinguish the fire before additional units arrived on the scene to assist, according to police.

Doris Wring, 96, who was taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation; Andrew Griffin, 73; and Sharon Swaby were displaced as a result of the fire.

Their house was one of those destroyed.

“Two of us grabbed my mother (Wring) and we carried her outside because she was in a wheelchair,” said Griffin as he recalled the moment he realized the severity of the fire.

“So, after we got her outside, I told two of my nephews to go inside and we tried to ‘yuck out’ as [many] things as we could. By that time, the fire engine reached; they told us to get out of the place.”

Griffin said he felt good knowing that he, his mother and his neighbors are alive following the incident.

“Things can be replaced, but life can’t be replaced,” he said.

Griffin said he believes his house, which was built by his grandmother in 1963, could have been saved.

He said the responding fire engine went through the wrong corner and was delayed in coming to the scene.

“By the time they got back around here, they only sent one truck and the one truck didn’t have the water because they started spraying water and then they ran out of water,” Griffin said.

“So, after that, everything just [went] up.”

He said he tried to assist with extinguishing the fire.

But, according to Griffin, “the heat was too much”.

Swaby told The Nassau Guardian that she was not home when the fire started.

“I had just left home about 2:15 p.m.,” she said while staring at the charred remains of her home.

“I went to pick up my girlfriend, went by my daughter’s home and that was it. When I listen, my niece called me and said, ‘Sharon, go by home.’

“She was calling because everyone was calling to find out about the fire. By the time I got here from across the way with my daughter, I saw my grandmother’s roof on fire.

“I said, ‘Oh, Lord!’ My grandmother’s roof was on fire. The house next to my grandmother’s and the next house, they were OK.”

She said she felt better after the flames were extinguished.

“I lost everything,” Swaby said.

While pointing at Griffin, she continued, “That’s my uncle. He’s in shock. My grandmother, they had to take her to the hospital, but she’s OK now.”

Swaby said she was not worried about where her family will go next.

“Ma’am, I have plenty nieces and nephews and plus my daughter,” she said.

“I can stay by my daughter. It ain’t a problem.”

Swaby said she has a house on Carmichael Road where she will put her grandmother.

She said her aunt is supposed to come to New Providence to help get the house in order.

Despite the nightmare that unfolded yesterday, Griffin said he was happy to have saved one thing in particular.

“I paid $15 for my lamb chop and I was able to save one piece of it and two [pieces of] chicken, so thank God for that,” he said with a chuckle.

“I will eat that in a little while.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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