Family of 6 homeless after fire guts East Canje house

A family of six is now homeless after an early morning fire on Saturday destroyed their two-storey home in East Canje, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
Sixty-four-year-old Elna Thornhill, who had shared the house with her husband, daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, told Guyana Times that she was in the bathroom on the lower flat of the building when she was alerted that the house was on fire.
“I was in the shower, and my gentleman ran in and said, ‘Fire! Fire!’. He really can’t communicate much because he has a stroke. I ran out of the bathroom naked skin, then I ran back into the bathroom for a towel…Like I don’t know what I was doing. I ran into the bedroom for my bag, then I ran back. I was running up and down because I was so confused! After all, nothing like this ever happened to me before!” she explained.

The family members who are now homeless

Her daughter Melissa Ramalho related that she immediately sprang into action by grabbing her two children – ages 5 and 7 – and taking them to safety. She related that it was not until she had reached outside that she realised the smoke was coming from the upper flat.
“All I see was smoke, and I got my kids and went outside. When I came outside, I saw that the smoke was coming from upstairs,” she related.
Ramalho said that at the time she was engaged in normal morning chores, and had just finished speaking with her husband, who is currently in the interior.
“After I make sure that the kids were outside, and then I called my neighbours, and they came over,” she added.
The woman further related that neighbours were able to save some household items from the burning building. However, an electric bike was burnt, and a car that was parked under the house was severely damaged, as the key could not be located in the confusion.
Ramalho has said she cannot say what would be her next move.

The aftermath of the fire

Family members have been high in praise of members of the New Amsterdam Fire Service. While the family has not yet been able to estimate their losses, Thornhill – a businesswoman – explained that her stocks for the business, which she operates at New Street in New Amsterdam, have also been damaged in the fire.
“I run back, but the heat was too much. I was running to go upstairs to see if my grandchildren (had been left behind), but when I go up the step inside, the heat and the fire was too much; I had to come out back,” she detailed.
Referring to the experience as being traumatic, Thornhill has said that, at age 64, it is difficult for her to restart.
“What would you get back? All of your important papers burn up. You would have to go through a whole long process to get them back. I am not able. Where would I start from?” she asked while hinting at her difficult past.
“I suffered too much in life. I went through too much hardship; sleeping on people’s floors and all. I must go back to the same thing? My daughter gave me a break, and now this…Anyway, God is in charge, and I suppose everything will be well,” she consoled herself.
The Fire Service is currently trying to determine the cause of the blaze.
(Andrew Carmichael)