Top level probe into deadly fire at place of safety

Report by Giovanni Dennis on Monday night's fire
A top-level probe is in progress into last night's deadly fire at the Walker's Place of Safety on Lyndhurst Crescent in St. Andrew.
Two female wards of the state died in the blaze. 
Two other wards were treated at hospital for smoke inhalation.
Thirty-four other children at the facility have been accounted for and were taken to a nearby church.
Five units battled the blaze which started shortly before 11 o'clock at the privately run home. It has not been ascertained how the fire started.
When RJR News arrived at the scene on Monday night, the piercing sound of sirens rang out in the late night calm. Firefighters were still battling the raging blaze at the place of safety, located at 17 Lyndhurst Crescent.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed, two children had died in the blaze. Floyd Green, State Minister for Youth, said the parents of the deceased children have been contacted. However, their identities are still being withheld. 
The other wards, 20 boys and 14 girls, as well as staff at the place of safety are receiving counselling, Mr. Green said, noting that they were "tremendously traumatised". 
He said members of the public can make donations to assist the wards, whose ages range from four to 16 years. 
A statement from the Ministry of Education and Youth said the facility had served as a transitional residence for children, generally up to 12 years old, who have been abandoned or removed from their homes because of unstable conditions.   
According to Mr. Green, at least two short term placement solutions are being looked at for the children.
"Clearly, the best case scenario is to keep them together...but barring that, we would try to keep siblings together if we have to move them to other locations," he added. 
OCA investigation
The Office of the Children's Advocate has also launched an investigation into Monday night's deadly incident. 
Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison, in reflecting on the fire, said it brought back memories of the deadly blaze at Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Ann in May 2009 - an incident which left five female wards  dead and thirteen others injured. 
"It really is a very sobering way to start 2018, where we have lost two wards of the state in too familiar circumstances - that of a fatal fire," she bemoaned. 
Mrs Gordon Harrison said her office will be working alongside other state agencies that also "desperately want to get to the bottom of (the incident)." 
Fire Brigade 
The Jamaica Fire Brigade, in the meantime, said it is working on a theory as to the cause of the fire at the Walker's Place of Safety.
Assistant Commissioner Sean Martin rejected claims by residents of Lyndhurst Crescent and surrounding areas that the Brigade was slow in responding to the distress call.
Mr. Martin says the call was received at 12:08.
He told RJR News that residents reported that the call was placed before that, but no one answered.
He is also dismissed reports that the units which responded had no water.


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