Castara family homeless again after sixth fire


The Parlatuvier Light House of Praise Ministries church in Tobago which was being used as a shelter for a Castara family. – DAVID REID

The latest shelter found for a Castara family was burnt down on Wednesday night in the sixth fire in five weeks.

The Parlatuvier church in which Gloria George and her family were staying was completely destroyed, the night after a fire damaged it.

Fire officials learnt the family’s trauma began several months ago when a relative’s businessplace was destroyed by fire.

Then in early December, the home of one of George’s daughters, along Castara Main Road, was almost completely burnt.

Weeks later, on Christmas Eve, George’s home a short distance away was also destroyed by fire.

The family was then relocated to a rental property in the area last Sunday, which was also set ablaze.

They were then given shelter at the Parlatuvier church, a branch of the Pentecostal Church of Mason Hall, which fire partially destroyed on Tuesday.

But in the latest incident on Wednesday, the church was burnt down.

Asst Fire Chief David Thomas told Newsday fire services got a call shortly before 8 pm.

“The first night, the church was not fully destroyed, but last night (Wednesday) it was destroyed,” he said, adding losses were estimated at $ 800,000.

Thomas said he has since met with the police and officials from the Tobago Emergency Management Agency and health and social services to decide what to do.

He said the records of the health and social services department showed the lives of 13 people have been disrupted by the fires.

“So we have put systems in place to attend to their immediate needs, and going forward we will provide them with all of the necessary counselling and psychiatric evaluation.”

He said after the latest fire, family members were on the streets, “because everywhere they went before, the place burn.

“Now they are all housed at different places, some by a brother, some by a cousin and some by a friend.

“But last night, when we left the scene, they were on the street.”

Thomas said he had interviewed all the family members, but the investigation is ongoing,

“As much as we have information, we have to format the information. We have to look at the commonalities, the extremes, the abstracts, to provide the family with a level of safety. So we are looking at all of the underlying factors at this time.”

Thomas said during his interviews he learnt members of the family had experienced fires even before the recent spate.

“So we are trying to put all of that in proper perspective, so that when we make a public announcement, it would be solid, evidence-based and conclusive.

“But now we are unable to give anything in terms of the cause of fire. All we know is that there were several different sorts of fire, and once you see that, there is a perpetrator, either internal or external.

“So, we have to properly analyse all the physical and circumstantial evidence, the ‘grapevine’ information and all the circumstances leading up to the occurrence of these events.”

Some social media users suggest there is a supernatural dimension to the fires, while others believe they were deliberately set.

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