This morning just before 5:00 a.m. fire broke out in the Newtown Barracks area. When the last embers had been put out approximately three hours later, two buildings were completely destroyed and a third severely damaged.
Sadly, there was also loss of human life. A female bar worker and resident identified as Jacqueline Artiaga, aged 23, was apparently killed in the flames. It is a devastating loss for one close personal friend, Selena Magana, who spoke to our colleagues at KREM TV.
“Well, I mih deh home when my friend gone halla for me. E seh, the place dih get bon and ting. So, I just come da the spot and the place mih don light up and ting”.
Reporter: “How would you describe the fire?”
Selena Magana: “Well, hm! E look like they intentionally do it”.
Reporter: “So, it is arson, you are saying?”
Selena Magana: “Yeap!”
Reporter: “Someone from outside the establishment or someone from within?”
Selena Magana: “I guess somebody from outside. I can’t tell ‘caz I don’t know how it happened”.
Reporter: “But haven’t you heard from the people you work with or from your friends what went on or from which place the fire started?”
Ms. Magana says her friend lived and worked at the bar and was a nice person who loved to party. For the Fire Department, their efforts were centered on containing the blaze. But that quickly turned to recovery when they were informed – by the police, who had belatedly been informed by the owner of the establishment – about someone still trapped in the flames.
In fact, the building had already burned through and collapsed on itself and partial charred remains were found in the lower flat half an hour into the search.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the fire but indications are that it started in the front of the establishment on the lower flat. At this point there are no hints as to whether the fire was deliberately set.
Three other persons also on the upper flat including the owner of the nightclub, her common-law husband and another were able to get out.