Fire guts Barrouallie Fisheries building
For more than two hours, community members from Bottle and Glass, Barrouallie, carried water to extinguish a fire that has now gutted a building set aside for use in the Fishing Industry.
They did so without the assistance of a firetruck, they say.
It was estimated to be sometime after one in the afternoon on Sunday, October 24, when a thick column of black smoke began to emanate from a building which had not been in use for some time, and was closed up to prevent persons from using it for purposes other than that for which it was built.
Contained inside the structure was said to be little more than a machine to pull up whales, and many boxes and empty bottles.
A single building stood between the fire engulfed structure and a gas pump station.
Thirty-one-year-old Ava Audain was one of the community members who helped to put out the flames. She recalled that when she realised what was going on, she was at home.
“I happened to just come out the house, and I saw the thick smoke coming from out there so I just alerted my sister and my mother and my cousin who living right here,” she said.
Most of her family sought refuge a distance from the fire.
“My sister has two small babies, have two twins, so we had to come back and cover them up and run carry them back round so just for rescue from the smoke,” she said about the babies who are only a few months old.
“…Eventually I went out there where they was throwing water and stuff like that and Mr James, well he told everyone was to form a line so they could drogue…seawater to throw because the seawater is better than the freshwater,” she recounted.
James, the Head of the Fire Department, a resident of the village, lent his assistance.
“He did a very good job,” Audain said, “He was alerting people to come and help and he did well.”
Audain was carrying water without stopping, despite the thick, black smoke affecting her eyes and nose. She said her position in the line was near the seawater but the smoke was still assaulting her. One of her fellow helpers told her to leave, but another woman brought a mask for her to use.
In her estimation “A lot of people was under the public bath(which is on one side of the building) and in the line it was, say about seven people handing up bucket one after the other and then we just pass it over by the public bath who was inside, who was closer to the fire, so they was collecting the bucket and just dashing the water.”
SEARCHLIGHT was told that it took around two hours to bring the fire under control and when a firetruck arrived, everything was already subdued.
“I know the fire truck is based all the way in town but I think we need one down here because it’s too far,” the Barrouallie resident said.
She also noted that when the fire tender arrived, “Everything been done do because the residents and them tek the matters into their own hand and they just couldn’t wait on the fire truck, because if it(the fire) had only cetch on the other building, I believe it’s just the heat alone woulda cause the explosion.”
Asked why she decided to help, the mother of three responded, “ I know the outcome, if it did only reach the gas station, and I am a member of this community for how long, so it’s obvious my instinct dey going kick in to say well you haffu do wey you haffu do.”
Audain acknowledged being scared. “I have three children; my son was there all the time and I had to run looking for him because the smoke done cover over here, you couldn’t see nuttin. So I was just running, looking frantically all over the place with them calling, was so scared.”
A man next to her, recalled jokingly that the smoke was so thick he thought Soufrière had blown again, but was sharply chastised by another woman nearby. Ken Griffith, another resident disclosed that he was concerned about the gas station, and noted, “Me nah want see the facility get destroyed so just put an assistance.”
Nigel Gibson also known as “Fish Killer” was also among those who lent assistance.
“You can’t see out here, whole place dark up. Plenty man assist eh, plenty man assist,” he said, while others were out with their phones.
Gibson revealed he helped because, “Me personally know for a fact that if the gas station burn down it ah go be more pressure on me as a fisherman.”
He believed that a reward should be given to those who helped.