Double tragedy for market vendor - Son killed days before stall goes up in flames again

June 10, 2020
This man sifts through the rubble of the latest fire at Rae Rae Market early Tuesday morning.
This man sifts through the rubble of the latest fire at Rae Rae Market early Tuesday morning.
Sherene Larmond
Sherene Larmond

Sherene Larmond sat staring at the spot where her stall once stood at Rae Rae Market in downtown Kingston.

Her gaze shifted to the firefighters who were carrying out cooling-down operations as fire once again gutted the market.

Between sighs, she stated that her belongings have gone up in flames numerous times over the 15-year period she has vended there.

This time, her goods were spared, as she and other vendors have taken to securing their barrels in nearby containers.

But this does not make her stress any easier. She stated that she is mourning the loss of her son, Towayne Virgo, who was killed by gunmen in Payne Land on May 29; yesterday's fire has added to her burden.

"Mi honestly don't know what to say or do because mi get a heavy cross to carry. Mi son dead on mi other son birthday, so every time mi likkle son fi celebrate him birthday, him a go mourn, and is the same thing mi a go do. See dem burn down the market again. So once again mi get set back and mi have funeral arrangements to make," he said.

According to a report from the police's Corporate Communications Unit, about midnight Tuesday, the Darling Street police and firefighters responded to a call that the market was on fire.

No one was injured in the blaze. However, a number of stalls were destroyed.

Larmond told THE STAR that every time she gets an early morning call from a fellow vendor, she always braces herself for the worst. But this time, the news was 'too heavy'.

"Last year when Christmas come and mi see the place nuh burn down, mi say it look like dem spare mi dis time and then this. Is corona time now so nothing nah sell. Is brave we brave it and come out here. For a few weeks we were not here," she said.

Frequent fires

Another vendor, Elaine Dickenson, said the frequent fires have depressed her, causing a stroke which is still affecting her mobility.

"Is from mi a 18 mi a sell here, enuh and now I am 65. I have gone through every single fire that happen here and mi lose millions. Last year when mi come back and see say mi lose everything again, mi body pained up same time and mi realised say mi have problems walking. The doctors say mi get a stroke and now mi have to walk with a cane," she said.

Sitting with a group of other female vendors, Dickenson said although it was only her stall that was destroyed yesterday, she is finding it very challenging to pick up the pieces.

"Mi basically a live from hand to mouth now because mi never get back enough stuff whe mi did have. Right now a two likkle barrel a rae rae mi have. Mi lose millions of dollars already over the 40 years mi a sell here. Mi keep coming back because a here so the customers dem used to come buy," she said.

She stated that she and others are pleading with the Government for any form of assistance as they are once again left broken.

"I have never gotten any assistance from the market a bun down so mi a beg the authorities dem to just help we out for a change, if is even some nails to rebuild the stall. For some people it may just look like a simple stall, but we really can't afford it now especially with the pandemic," she said.

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