Two Venezuelan nationals who were trapped in a heavily grilled apartment lost their lives this morning as fire engulfed the building.
Persons nearby said the women were heard screaming out for help, but even the firemen were unable to reach them as the fire quickly engulfed the inside of the two-story building.
The two women who lost their lives have been identified as 25-year-old, Maria Lina Texido and 41-year-old, Maria Benjamett.
The fire was first spotted just after 8:30 this morning at the apartment building in 5th Street Alberttown. The Fire Service which is located two corners away quickly responded but the blaze was fast-moving on the inside of the building.
Mostly foreign nationals from Venezuela and Cuba lived in the building.
Fire Chief Kalamadeen Edoo said the Fire Service is saddened at the loss of life. He explained that the Fire Service responded promptly to the reports of the blaze.
“We received a call at 8:46 this morning that there is a house on fire at 5th Street Alberttown and immediately, two fire tenders from the Central Fire station along with one from Alberttown and the ambulance responded. On arrival, it was observed that the first floor of the two-story building was completely engulfed and immediately we went into operation”, the Fire Chief said.
He said from all appearances, the fire started in the upper flat of the building which was located at the back of two other buildings.
The Fire Chief said the building was heavily grilled and that hampered the firefight initially.
“It was difficult for firefighters to get access to the building because the entire building was grilled. We had to break the doors and they were two doors, the grill door, and the wooden doors to get access into it.”
It appears as though both women died from smoke inhalation. One of the bodies was discovered on a bed while the other was found in the back of the building.
The Fire Chief said it also appears as though the occupants of the building were intoxicated at the time of the blaze.
One of the other tenants of the apartment who managed to escape, Ricford Benjamin, said he heard the screams of the women but there was not much that could have been done to save them.
“You hear hollering in the next apartment, and then it has the grill inside and the doors were locked, they do have a lot of locks on the doors. We grabbed what we could and got out from our apartment”, Benjamin recalled.
The man said the situation has left him shaken but he is thankful.
“When I wake up, I smell the little fire, so I started to check around to see if any wire started a fire so after that when I come outside and realize what was going on is like time to grabble what I can and come out and in the midst of grabbing all my money gone and misplace because of the confusion everybody running in and out because of the big man daughter who went inside the apartment”, he said.
Some other persons who were on the scene of the Fire said the Fire Service should have arrived better prepared. He said they did not appear to have equipment to cut through the grill.
“When the fire truck came, it came with only four firefighters, no water and nothing to cut the grill”, the witness recalled.
The cause of the fire is still to be determined. A full investigation is underway. A few weeks ago, there was another fire at another city building where migrants live.