'Mi lose everything' - Vendor, 27 others left homeless after fire

March 17, 2017
Flames engulf the residence, leaving 28 people homeless.
Firefighters view the massive blaze at the corner of King Street and Beeston Street in downtown Kingston on Thursday.

Yesterday morning was distressing and, for sure, the days leading up to recovery will be challenging for 50-year-old vendor Marion Clarke, who learnt that her belongings went up in smoke following an inferno in downtown Kingston.

Clarke told THE WEEKEND STAR that she left home to sell downtown when she saw smoke blanketing the sky, only to learn that it was coming from the building where she lived.

According to Clarke, she was hustling her socks and other items and had to rush to the scene.

She said, "Mi lose everything. Clothes alone about $300,000. All my stock in the building. Mi mek things with bottle cork and sell to tourist. One sale is like all $10,000 when time is good. Mi nuh know weh mi a go do. Mi have a purse up deh with some money, mi nuh count it, so mi nuh know a how much in there."

Clarke said she would be seeking the assistance of her eldest daughter to provide her a place of shelter in the interim.

Clarke has been living upstairs the premises, located at the corner of King Street and Beeston Street, for over 10 years.

She is one of 28 residents, including 12 children, who are now homeless.

Fire chief Dennis Lyon told THE WEEKEND STAR that five units attended to the blaze, which began some time after 8:30 a.m.

While our news team was on the scene, it was brought to our attention that the water pressure coming from the fire hydrant was low, however, assistance was sought from the National Water Commission (NWC).

Lyon confirmed that the NWC assisted the process and has recommended that the building be demolished.

"The top collapsed, and when we look at the structure, it is not safe.

It's a very very old building," he said.




Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams told THE WEEKEND STAR, "We have to offer assistance. We have the normal procedure. The person from the poor relief department is here and we will be in dialogue with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to render some assistance."

When asked about the state of buildings in downtown Kingston and the living conditions of some of the residents, the mayor said he was concerned.

He told THE WEEKEND STAR, "The KSAC has a deep interest in the structures here and across the city. We need housing solutions in critical areas in the city. We are advanced in our discussion with the Ministry of Housing."

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