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Granny perishes after ‘daughter’ lights candle, falls asleep

Granny perishes after ‘daughter’ lights candle, falls asleep


Lenora Charles is overwhelmed with grief and guilt at how her actions inadvertently contributed to her “mother”, Christinia Samuel, being burnt to death last weekend.{{more}}

And she wants her neighbours to know “me ain’t do it fo spite”.

On Saturday, September 26, at about 1:40 a.m., the Old Montrose home of the 93-year-old woman who took her in when she was just a toddler was destroyed by fire, snuffing out the life of the old woman.

For Charles, who was in the house asleep, but managed to escape “half naked”, life after the tragedy has been pure misery. And with good reason.

Less than a month ago, Charles stumbled on the old woman, breaking Samuel’s leg and significantly reducing her mobility prior to the fire.

Then last Saturday night it was Charles who arrived home, lit a candle and then fell asleep. That candle set the house ablaze while the family slept.

As if that was not enough, when the smoke roused Charles from her slumber, her asthmatic condition made it impossible for her to make any meaningful attempt to rescue Samuel. She escaped without a scratch.

A visibly shaken Charles, who was interviewed by SEARCHLIGHT at the Accident and Emergency Department of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, just moments after the inferno, explained she arrived home around midnight and lit the candle in her bedroom, but quickly fell asleep.

Shortly after, Charles said, clouds of smoke and the heat of the fire awoke her.

“When I get up to try and out the fire it been already spread, but me ain’t been able to do anything because I is ah asthmatic,” Charles recalled.

As the tears streamed down her cheeks, Charles said it was Samuel who became her unofficial adopted mother at the age of one year old after her mother passed away.

“Mommy gone left me…oh God! Me ain’t do it fo spite,” she said.

Charles added that she ran out of the house half naked and sought clothing from a neighbour before heading to the hospital.

Police indicate that the candle ignited flammable material in Charles’ room, and then spread to Samuel’s room and throughout the wood and wall dwelling.

However, irate villagers felt more could have been done to save Samuel’s life. In the wee hours of the morning while the embers still glowed, neighbours vented their anger and frustration.

“If she been call out to somebody, Ms Samuel would have been alive all now,” one villager said.

Some villagers also told SEARCHLIGHT that Samuel had been immobile for quite some time because Charles had stumbled on her foot, breaking it.

Samuel’s grandson, Kemmie Kydd, who was also asleep in the house when the fire broke out, said he had started smelling the smoke when Charles came to where he was and asked for his assistance.

“When she come call me, I try to go in the kitchen and get some water to go and out the fire but it been too late,” he recalled.

He also charged it was not the first time Charles had fallen asleep while cooking.

“She been put on the pot and drop sleep and fire ketch, but it ain’t spread nowhere really,” he said.

A distraught Kenneth Samuel, nephew of the deceased, said: “I feel distraught by what happen here tonight.”

Describing her as more of a “mother figure” in his life, Samuel said his great-aunt raised him from three years old and was very instrumental in his life.

Samuel added it was his son (Kydd) who came next door and woke him to inform him about the fire.

“When he came and tell me what was going on, it was too late because the fire had already covered the entire house,” he recalled.

However, the somber mood that permeated the community on the tragic morning, eased to an extent on Monday when a candlelight vigil was held in honour of the deceased woman. Villagers turned out in their numbers and sang hymns lustily while embracing each other around the lighted candles.

Several residents described Samuel as a “loving person” who willingly gave advice to neighbours.

“She was just the type of woman to offer you anything… She will be surely mised by this community,” another said.

Police are still investigating.