A Jamaican national and three Cubans are among 14 tenants left homeless after fire gutted their apartment complex in Curepe on Monday evening.
One of the affected tenants, pensioner Jennifer Cockburn, 66, told Guardian Media at about 4.30 pm she was sitting in her verandah located downstairs in the split level building when she heard a sound coming from an apartment above her.
I hear 'puff', then I smell smoke then I hear people shouting, 'Fire, fire,' so I ran outside on the road," she said
Cockburn said the female tenant who occupied the apartment where the fire was believed to have started suffered a minor burn on one of her hands as she tried to escape.
Owners of the building, Farhad and Tara Mohammed, told the Guardian Media the fire reignited two times and they felt strongly that the responding fire officers did not do their jobs properly the first time they responded to the blaze.
"When they came they managed to contain the blaze in the two rooms then strangely before they left, they gave us the clearance to go back into the building," Tara Mohammed said.
"When we went upstairs to check to see, the fire had reignited and some of the tenants who were with us shouted, 'F!'ire and we ran out. The fire service was called in again but they took over 30 minutes before they arrived . . . by that time the entire upstairs was engulfed in flames. If they had made sure the first time and checked all the rooms this would not have happened. The second time when they came they stayed long and then they put up caution tape before they left."
She added that a neighbour told her the fire again reignited at about 3 am. Fire Services came for the third time and extinguished the blaze.
Up to 9.30 am, Fire Prevention Officers were yet to visit the scene and carry out investigations to determine the cause of the blaze.
The building is estimated to be valued at $4 million, according to the owners.
- Story and photo by Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant.