Black Immigrant Daily News
Members of the De Verteuil family look at the burnt out ruins of their Gasparillo homes which caught afire early on Friday morning. – Marvin Hamilton
A fire gutted two houses in Harmony Hall, Gasparillo, early Friday, leaving nine people, including four children, homeless.
The family is asking the public for help to rebuild, saying they have no money to do it on their own.
Homeowner Georgiana De Verteuil, 49, lived in the wooden three-bedroom house at Hibiscus Lane.
She lived with five of her children — three adults and two minors, 13 and eight — and two granddaughters – nine and three. Another adult son Mitchum Rawlins lived in an adjoining house at the front of the family’s home.
All four children attend the Gasparillo Government Primary School. The family had been living there for over 20 years.
De Verteuil’s daughter Merissa De Verteuil recalled that the smell of smoke awakened her while the rain was falling shortly before 1 am, and she alerted everyone.
Earlier in the night, they were experiencing electrical issues and decided to use candles as a precautionary measure.
With the wind blowing, they suspect a curtain might have come in contact with the lit candle.
“The breeze was also strong, causing one of the galvanise sheets on the roof to make noise. When I got up, I saw the flames in front. I tried to put it out using a bucket of sand,” Merissa said as she looked at the ruins of the family home.
“We did not get to save anything. The fire was at the entrance of the house. There is a back door, but it was nailed down and could not be opened. My brother’s (Rawlins) house was at the front next to the front room, so it caught quickly.”
Merissa’s eight-year-old daughter wore a cast on her right foot. The child crawled on all fours out of the burning house to safety. Her crutches were destroyed in the fire.
The child, Merissa said, was injured in an incident on the first day of school.
None of the children have any uniforms or school supplies.
Rawlins added, “We need help, and it does not have to be monetary. Although if people want to give money, we will accept. We need a roof over our heads. We need materials, so anybody who is willing to help out, we would appreciate it.”
Anyone willing to help the family can call them at 387-3947.
Investigations are ongoing.