THE CHARRED REMAINS of the three-bedroom wooden flat-house and its contents, belonging to Cheryl King of Old Montrose. Ray King (Inset) one of the occupants of the house
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April 22, 2022
Family home gutted by fire in Old Montrose

A FAMILY OF OLD Montrose watched a part of their history go up in flames this week when their family home was burnt to the ground in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Reports from the police indicate that the fire destroyed a three-bedroom wooden flat-house and its contents, belonging to Cheryl King.

The fire also caused damage to three surrounding houses in the area.

King, who lives in a two-storey house at the back of the one that was gutted, told SEARCHLIGHT that she woke up sometime after 3:00 a.m because she heard dogs barking but she did not look in the direction of her family home.

She said she had just returned to her bed when she heard her brother calling from the house located on the right side of the burnt house.

“He say is smell he smell and when he smell, he look out so he called me. When I come out, flames…” King, who is also known as Cherrie, said.

The Old Montrose resident said they tried throwing water on the wooden structure before a tender from the Fire Department arrived.

King is uncertain of the value of items lost

in the fire but it included fridge, stove, beds and personal belongings of her brother and nephew, Ray King who occupied the family home.

Ray told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that he was not at home when the fire engulfed the wooden structure.

He said that he was in a state of shock when his family called to give him the news.

“I don’t know if they had a fear that I might’ve been inside. It was that kind of state of shock…I actually got a call…they were trying and for some reason, they couldn’t get me,” he related.

“It’s like history. It’s a place where I was born and met, handed down through generations. I met my parents there…we had intentions of enhancing the board house. It was just a matter of time, but to lose your belongings inside it, things of memories, things I’ve had since I was a little kid…it’s just so sad.”

In addition to clothing, jewellery and other personal effects, Ray, who works as a tradesman said he lost his tools and other items that the family had been stocking to carry out repairs to the house.

“It’s a place where everyone grew up so there are things of memory there for everyone. We were taking our time, accumulating things. We already had roofing materials and actual board for the house was there stocked away; plywood, galvanise, lumber. It wouldn’t have been enough to do the full…building but it was a beginning. We had a good portion of galvanise there that would’ve actually covered the building. All that is a loss because roofing is the most expensive thing for the house overall…” he told SEARCHLIGHT. He said starting from scratch will no doubt be difficult, but he is grateful to have life because “where there is life, there is hope”.

This week’s fire dredged up old memories for the family, as Cheryl remembers when her brother’s house was burned flat some years ago.

“My brother was living in by the pan yard. High day time he working not too far, he see fire. He say I hope is not Cherrie by here, but next thing is his house,” she recalled. “Is not a good thing to face. Nobody likes fire but you see from since when my brother house get burned, as soon as I see a fire engine, is just like your heart coming out,” she said.

She is however thankful to God that she and her relatives are still alive because the incident could have resulted in a much worse scenario.

It is still uncertain how the fire started and police have lodged an investigation into the matter.

But King told SEARCHLIGHT that she suspected someone may have started it.

“I think so, I think so. I might be wrong but the good Lord will forgive me… I find round Montrose now, is just plenty fire, fire,” she said.

Her nephew, Ray said he did not want to “point any fingers” in speculating how the fire started; however he added that he was unaware that the house had any electrical issues.

He has sent out a call for help to institutions and other entities to lend assistance to his family to help them rebuild and replace necessary items that were lost in the fire.

The Old Montrose resident said they would be grateful for any assistance that can be given going forward.