The National Fire Service’s investigation into Wednesday’s fire in San Ignacio which claimed the life of a senior citizen has revealed that the tragedy was the result of an unattended candle. The incident occurred at the corner of 18th Street and Swallow Drive and resulted in the death of 62-year-old Merlene Wellington. Wellington’s daughter, 41-year-old Shantel Hendy, was sleeping when she heard her mother shouting. She then rushed to her mother’s room where she saw thick smoke coming from inside. Hendy says tried to open the room door but was unsuccessful which led her to focus on evacuating her children from the house. She also made another attempt to get her mother out but that second attempt also proved futile. Unfortunately, Wellington could not be saved and after the fire had been extinguished her charred remains were taken to the San Ignacio Hospital. Today, Station Supervisor at the National Fire Service, Kenneth Mortis spoke about the factors that may have led to Wellington’s death.
Kenneth Mortis, Station Supervisor, National Fire Service: “The timing that the fire occurred, Ms. Hendy was asleep and eventually family members got alerted of such and some managed to come out the building unscathed. While Ms. Hendy, she woke up a bit in a disoriented state and she was overcome by smoke and heat. Unfortunately for her, she was literally at the exit of the door as to when the investigators found her, that is where we concluded that she probably passed out, became unconscious and then she succumbed as a result of he heat and the smoke inhalation. The investigators, we’re kind of like leading towards a candle as we had learnt that the building had no electricity. We did manage to confirm that Ms. Hendy habitually used a candle as a means of light. Unfortunately at this moment, the family doesn’t want to believe that a candle was left in the room. That’s what investigators came up with and that’s what we’re basically leaning towards. The structure of that type of building, the doors itself was one of those old original Mahogany doors. The locking mechanism was a heavy duty locking mechanism so if one individual tried to break down the door and weren’t successful then they should have probably thought about a battering ram or probably get somebody heavier. You know, there’s a lot of factors why the door couldn’t be broken by one individual let alone, that door behind it, it now has heat. It now has, probably water was applied. The wood definitely expanded more than normal. Those would have been the factors that contributed to why they couldn’t break down that door successfully.”