NEWS

Families Face Bleak Future

Five families face a bleak future after a fire gutted their homes at Howell Road in Suva yesterday. The fire, which the National Fire Authority is still trying to determine
15 Jul 2015 10:50
Families Face Bleak Future
Families have lost most of their belongings. Photo: Jona Konataci

Five families face a bleak future after a fire gutted their homes at Howell Road in Suva yesterday.

The fire, which the National Fire Authority is still trying to determine the cause of, has left more than 30 people homeless.

Fuelled by gusty winds and the low water pressure the fire spread quickly.

“I just came off the streets in August last year and my house was rebuilt through the help of Guru Dutt from an NGO and now I have nothing else left, I don’t know how to start my life again,” former street beggar Gyan Wati said in tears.

“I have lost everything in the fire.”

The 44-year-old Ms Wati was at home with her four sons and a daughter when the fire allegedly broke out from their neighbour’s double–storey home.

“I was going to boil the kettle and prepare to make our dinner when I saw thick black come from my neighbour’s house. I called my children and we ran outside. We couldn’t even save any of our things because the fire had spread so fast.”

“I think it was caused by a ‘diya’ or electric fault from our neighbor’s house,” she claimed.

A double-storey wooden house, consisting of four flats and a single eight-bedroom wooden and corrugated iron flat, was also destroyed in the fire.

Emily Veiqali’s daughter, Sulueti Baleikoro, was at home as well when the fire broke out.

“This is a very hard time for us, I just don’t how to start all over again especially when I’m just a housemaid and not earning much,” Mrs Veiqali said.

“She (Sulueti) is still shocked at the moment about what happened. She was able to save two suitcases of clothes and our flat screen TV.”

Iliesa Turaganisoqo, 26, a mechanic at National Hire, also did his best to try and save what little he could. Risking his life he even tried to save a baby that lives in a flat downstairs.

He was returning from work when he saw his neighbour’s (landlord) house on fire.

“I ran for our house to try and save some things and I was only able to get out a wooden chest. I ran to a flat downstairs because there was a baby inside and luckily they had run outside quickly. I managed to grab some of their clothes and threw it downhill from their home,” he said.

Ms Wati’s son, Sandeep Roy, could not hide his frustrations because he claimed the firefighters were 30 minutes late.

However, National Fire Authority chief executive officer John O’ Connor refuted claims that they were late to the scene.

“The team did all they could when they reached the scene, however their main priority was to prevent the fire from spreading to the nearby houses,” he said.

“I can understand the frustrations in understanding the firefighting strategies applied. I can sympathise with the families.

“Unfortunately we used the fire hydrants but the pressure was low and in order to get water we had to get back to Rewa Street to fill but traffic was really tight and our trucks just couldn’t move and that affected the initial fire fighting when our trucks started running out of water.”

Nine fire trucks from Suva, Valelevu, Nausori and Navua helped contained the fire.

Feedback:  aqela.susu@fijisun.com.fj

 

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