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Firemen and police probe cause of fire at house occupied by vagrant

by: - December 14, 2018
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(Antigua Observer)
Agustin Whyte, a vagrant who was last resting his head in an abandoned structure, may be responsible for a house fire in Sutherlands which also damaged an adjacent property.

This is according to police sources close to the probe, who said Whyte went to the St. John’s Police Station about 12:30 a.m. yesterday, to report that he returned to the house he occupied in Sutherlands and found it burnt down.

When OBSERVER media checked with sources at the fire department, they confirmed that there was a fire in that community at the property Whyte described.

The house went up in flames around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, and the investigation revealed that there was no electricity connected to the property at the time of the fire, so the investigators have ruled out an electrical cause.

The burnt house was a 35×32 feet concrete structure with a galvanize roof. According to police sources, it was uninsured.

A woman who lives next to the burnt structure reported to lawmen that the house had been abandoned for some time.

She confirmed that Whyte, whom she described as a vagrant, had been living there, and that prior to him taking up residence other vagrants made the property their home but had moved on.

An adjacent 41X39ft concrete house owned by Iduna Thomas sustained minor damage to plastic spouting located on the northern side of the property. The estimate to repair the damage had not been ascertained up to yesterday.

So far for the year, up to yesterday afternoon, there were 531 reports of fire across Antigua and Barbuda.

St. John’s Fire Station received the majority of the calls, with 267, followed by All Saints Fire Station which got 204 reports. Johnsons Point Fire Station received 44 reports, while Coolidge and Barbuda each handled eight.

Meanwhile, the authorities investigating the cause of a house fire this week in Johnsons Point believe it was due to an electrical issue. That’s what the preliminary report from the Johnsons Point Fire Station indicates at this time.

The fire occurred on December 11 at an uninsured property occupied by a family of nine, which include an adult couple and their seven children.

They were all asleep when the mother was roused by the intense smoke in the bedroom and found one of the beds on fire. The woman gathered her family and rushed them outside to safety, sources said yesterday.

A passerby helped to extinguish the fire which caused slight damage to the room but destroyed the bed.