The section of Newtown Barracks between Barrack Road and Wilson Street remains cordoned off today as investigations continue into Wednesday morning’s deadly fire that claimed the life of a pregnant mother of three, Jacqueline Arteaga.
The 23-year-old was reportedly too afraid to jump from the top floor where she was renting a room and paid the price with her life. But some still believe the National Fire Service could have saved her. Operations Officer Benisford Matura explains to the press why, because they were not informed earlier, they could not.
“Upon arrival, no one informed us that someone was in there. About midway during the firefighting, I guess the proprietor for Kimmy’s Bar came and informed the police and that is how we were informed that some one was in there. But upon arrival, no one informed none of the firefighters that someone was trapped in the Kimmy’s Nightclub of the upper-floor”.
The Service has come under criticism for arriving late and using naïve tactics in fighting the fire.
But Matura says they arrived within four minutes and set one truck to work while another began drawing from the nearest water supply – in the case, the Caribbean Sea.
Here is Matura’s response to those criticisms.
Benisford Matura: “Like I said, no one informed us that someone was trapped. So, rescuing someone in there in that situation would rather be difficult.
Matura adds that calls to Ladyville for additional manpower are standard operating procedure, and that while the tanks on the trucks are never empty, they discharge rather quickly so a supplementary source is always needed. Thus far, a cause of the fire has not been determined but there is nothing to suggest arson as some have claimed.
The content of Kimmie’s Bar and Nightclub was not insured. Two other buildings nearby suffered minor damage and Pandora’s Café on the other side suffered major damage to its upper portion. Arteaga is the second woman to die by fire in a month, following 83-year-old Isoline Gabourel who was burned in her home on Douglas Jones Street on May 22.