Relatives suffer during 'GP' fire
Several relatives of inmates being housed at the Tower Street Correctional Facility in Kingston yesterday flocked the location to ascertain the safety of their loved ones inside as a massive fire engulfed a section of the facility.
"Me cousin, Dwight Fuller, trouble with asthma. Me worried about him, and all if them carry them go hospital, me still can't see them!" one woman bellowed as she witnessed the massive blaze accompanied by thick, black smoke coming from the George Davis Centre, which houses the mentally challenged inmates at the facility.
A worried mother, Ellen Hinds, shouted, "Me love my son like how Jesus love little children!" Her son, Rohan Reid, is serving 30 years for double murder.
She explained that she journeyed from Maxfield Avenue in Kingston 13 to deliver food, and upon her arrival, she heard of the inferno on the inside, but could not get further details.
"I feel mad because me wah know if my child get hurt or if anybody get hurt," she lamented. Another mother shared similar sentiments.
"My son is in there! (His name is) Shacquiel Powell, and I don't want anything to happen to him, so that's why I come down there to find out," she said.
The lack of information about the inmates' safety being provided on the grounds yesterday created the perfect atmosphere for rumours to start swirling about what was happening on the inside, evoking more fear in relatives.
Pearnel Charles Jr, minister of state in the Ministry of National Security, told our news team that no one was injured in the blaze, which started around noon.
He explained that mentally challenged inmates were being housed in the area, and they had been transferred to a safe location.
He said he could not confirm allegations that the fire had been started by one of the inmates.
"[The fire] brings up a lot of the issues that we have to address. There is also an issue relating to the type of inmates we house at the facility," he said.
Charles said that there is an inter-ministerial committee that is put together to deal specifically with inmates who are troubled and mentally ill.
In a release yesterday, the Department of Correctional Services said that the cause of the fire had not yet been determined, and an estimate of loss had not been calculated.