Former Minister hospitalised after fire erupts at home
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Rashleigh Jackson has been hospitalised after he was affected by heavy smoke and had to be pulled out of his home when a fire broke out at his Republic Park, East Bank Demerara, residence on Wednesday morning.
The fire started sometime after 11:00h. Guyana Times understands that 90-year-old Jackson lives alone but his grandson usually sleeps over at the Lot 182 Wills Street and Jackson Avenue, Republic Park, house.
At the time of the fire, which investigators believe might be electrical in origin, Jackson was home alone.
One of his neighbours told this newspaper that she was in the yard with her handyman doing some gardening when they noticed smoke emanating from the house next door.
“We saw some thick black smoke coming from a room [on the bottom flat of the house]. So I told [the handyman] jump up and see if anybody burning anything over there because I called and there was no answer. So I told him go into the yard and call for Mr Jackson and see what’s happening. He then told me its fire,” the woman related.
She said that she immediately called 911 and was transferred to the Guyana Fire Service. While they were awaiting the arrival of the firefighters, the neighbours said they tried calling out for the elderly man but got no response.
According to the neighbour, she then heard Jackson coughing in his bedroom and so they enlisted the help of some other persons in the community to break into his house to rescue him.
“I was calling for him and there was no answer, then I heard a cough. So I said he’s in the house and I told the guy climb up and get and pointed his bedroom out…Two guys were passing and we asked for their help and they used my ladder to climb on to the shed, where they broke some windows to get into the bedroom and then they brought him down the ladder,” the woman recalled.
She added that by that time, an ambulance had arrived at the scene along with a fire tender and Jackson was transported to a city hospital for treatment.
“They had to put on an oxygen mask cause he had inhaled all that smoke. There was a lot of smoke. It was a little scary but thank God, he’s doing ok,” the woman related.
Guyana Times was told that the fire started in a room at the bottom flat of house, located to the rear of the house. That room, this newspaper was told, contained books and a heater.
Fire Chief Marlon Gentle told this publication that firefighters managed to contain the blaze within the room and prevent any excessive damage to the wooden building.
Further, he noted that that while an investigation has been launched into the cause of the fire, they suspected it to be electrical.
“Tomorrow (today), we are going to be working with the Electrical Department cause we have a strong feeling it might have been electrical,” the Fire Chief told this newspaper.
Jackson served as Foreign Affairs Minister under the People’s National Congress (PNC) Government from 1978 to 1990. He also served as Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) from 1973 to 1978, during which he held the post of President of the UN Security Council in 1975 and 1976 respectively.