Minibus fire snuffs out family’s source of income
Akeenya Stalpeton stands behind what was left of his omnibus which was destroyed by fire.
October 3, 2023

Minibus fire snuffs out family’s source of income

Kingstown Hill resident, Akeenya Stapleton, had set Sunday as the day to get his minibus back into tip-top shape in hopes of returning to the Redemption Sharpes passenger-route the following day.

That plan went up in flames just before 9 am on October 1 when the minibus caught fire, completely destroying the vehicle and extensively damaging an abandoned property next to the space where the vehicle was parked.

Stapleton told SEARCHLIGHT he is still trying to figure out the cause of the fire that almost claimed his life and burned his family home.

He explained that days earlier, he was experiencing issues with the vehicle “shutting down”. He initially thought it had run out of gas, but after the issue did not resolve when the tank was filled, Stapleton figured the vehicle needed to be checked.

“I know what people say about the vans. I don’t want my van name call up in no bad thing, so me try make sure my thing in good shape all the time,” Stapleton told SEARCHLIGHT during an interview on Monday.

He took the vehicle out of service with the intention to have any issues identified and corrected over the weekend.

Stapleton said an electrician had been called on to inspect the vehicle and attempts were made to start the engine.

Moments later, as he was standing behind the vehicle, Stapleton said he saw a flame.

“Me see fire. One high wind come and the whole thing [vehicle] just catch.” Stapleton said, adding that the fire was so sudden and intense, he thought he had caught fire as well.

He tried to put the fire out, but low water pressure and a damaged hose worked against his efforts. He said within three minutes, his biggest financial investment and his family’s primary source of income was completely destroyed.

“Me just try to push it away from the house so it don’t catch but it was hot and hard to move.”

Stapleton said while he is thankful that his family home was not affected by the fire, he and his wife are both devastated that they will have to start from scratch in the minibus trade.

“All me could do is just stop up dey and bawl. I just hold my head and bawl. This was my whole life. I don’t even know where to go from here.”

Stapleton, who resigned from his day job to work in the minibus sector two years ago, said he is “traumatized” and is having trouble sleeping since yesterday’s incident.