Front Page
October 15, 2004


Arsonists struck with deadly accuracy last Saturday morning.

Hepsie Prescott, an 80-year-old woman of South Rivers, died after the two-bedroom board and wall house in which she lived was burnt. Prescott lived in the same yard with her eldest daughter Yvette. {{more}}

It took frantic efforts by South Rivers’ residents to contain the spread of the blaze to adjoining buildings.

Frank Prescott, Hepsie’s 41-year-old son, an electrician who works on the northern Grenadine island of Bequia, got news of his mother’s death early that morning.

He dismissed suggestions that electricity malfunction was responsible for the blaze. And according to information by residents that day, a man from the village with a history of targeting old women was identified as having knowledge of the cause of the fire.

Prescott’s body was charred as a result of the blaze, leaving only pieces of bones. They were interred in a ceremony last Wednesday. Burnt boards on the family house nearby, scorched trees, and weeds from surrounding terrain, shattered glass from a nearby building, twisted galvanise from the former residence, pieces of ornaments reduced to shrunken relics, and grains of coals strewn on the compound, reflected the tale of the swivelling inferno.

A fire tender arrived from Georgetown, but by the time it arrived, the house had already been consumed in flames, Low water pressure hampered the desperate attempts of the residents to contain the blaze, but they were able to reduce the impact.

The building was a family structure constructed by Hepsie’s husband in 1975, It was valued at $50,000 and given additional value by the furnishings, albeit simple, to accommodate the elderly lady.

The firebug also hit with whispering destruction last week Wednesday. That time it was in Barrouallie. Roxanne Frederick, a 26-year-old unemployed woman and three children are lucky to be alive.

Frederick, mother of Zoya, 9, Zoran, 7, and one-year-old Zoriah, were tucked in at their residence at Reversion. Frederick recalled hearing a noise at her bedroom window about 10 o’clock that evening. And the continuous barking of dogs heightened her suspicion that something was amiss. She took the children into the living room and fell asleep with Zoriah on her chest. About midnight, Zoya awoke her saying “Mammy, fire burning me.”

“I see the whole house in fire,’ Frederick said. She ran with the baby and guided her other two children to safety before returning to the house. But the flames were too intense for her to rescue any of her belongings. The building suffered a fiery blast, which brought the contents to parched and ashen remnants.

Frederick has been biding the time since the mishap with her mother-in-law, with her last child. The other two are staying with their grandmother. ‘

“I am just trying to cope with it,” Frederick muttered. Memories of the incident, mixed with thoughts of the future, formed clouds of smoke similar to those which devoured her home, but forced a drip of tears to her eyes as she clutched her baby.