Drop-in Centre fire In keeping with commitments made to President David Granger, retired Colonel Windee Algernon on Tuesday handed over the report to Government with the preliminary findings into the recent fire at the State-run Drop-in Centre that claimed the lives of two young boys.According to the Government Information Agency (GINA), the report was handed over to Minister of State Joseph Harmon on Friday at the Ministry of the Presidency.Retired Commissioner, Colonel Windee Algernon handing over the preliminary report from the inquiry into the deadly Hadfield Street Drop-In Centre fire to Minister of State Joseph Harmon on FridayLast week, the Head of State ordered an inquiry into the incident in which six-year-old Antonio George and his two-year-old brother Joshua George were killed. Colonel Algernon was commissioned to conduct the probe to determine the circumstances surrounding the fire and make recommendations to prevent any recurrence.At the simple handing over ceremony on Friday, Minister Harmon, upon receiving the document, acknowledged that the preliminary report was submitted by July 22, in accordance with the Terms of Reference outlined for the Commission of Inquiry. He noted that the report will be passed on to President Granger for his perusal, while the final one will be sent to Cabinet for review when it is received.Meanwhile, as the probe into the tragic incident continues, the Head of State has declared that if anyone is found culpable of negligence then they will be held accountable.“If any persons are culpable of gross negligence or dereliction of duties, yes we will make a judgment as to whether they are fit to hold those positions and if you equate that with rolling of heads, then yes,” the President posited.Nevertheless, he outlined that the aim of the inquiry is to prevent a reoccurrence. “We need to find out what happened and prevent a reoccurrence. In investigating what occurred, if we find that there was gross dereliction of duties, yes persons who omitted to commit acts, which would have prevented that catastrophe will be punished and if the punishment proposed is that they be removed from their positions so be it,” Granger told reporters on the weekly televised programme, the Public Interest.Just after midnight on July 8, the two young brothers perished in a fire which occurred at the Drop-in Centre on Hadfield Street, Georgetown. According to reports, the elder brother Antonio was asleep in the dormitory when the fire started and as the younger brother Joshua was being taken out of the building by caregivers, he realised that his brother was not with him.The two-year-old managed to free himself from the grip of the caregiver and ran back into the burning building. The two brothers were then trapped in the building and their charred remains were subsequently recovered.Social Service Assistants Sandra Jones and Rupert Hinds, who were in charge of the 31 children at the Drop-in Centre, were given a chance to describe the events leading up to the tragic incident.According to Jones, who was in charge of the girls’ department in the upper flat of the Centre, said she noticed sparks emanating from a nearby electrical wire which quickly erupted into a flame and began spreading into an uncontrollable blaze.She said that she began awakening the girls, who then rushed out of the burning building to safety, while she tried to battle the flames with the fire extinguishers.“I was in the dorm upstairs and the girls already drop to sleep and whilst sitting down, I noticed the electrical wire on the wall, start giving this whizzing sound, and next thing I know, there’s a big bunch of fire all over the place. I wake the girls up and try to save as much of them I can. I saved all my girls. I got out all of the girls,” she related.However, Hinds, who was in charge of the boys, explained that when Jones alerted him to the fire, he tried to get the boys to safety, and then moved to assist Jones in taming the fire.Meanwhile, Director of the Child Care Protection Agency (CCPA), Ann Greene had disclosed that the two brothers along with three other siblings were taken into the care of the State two days before, following an investigation into allegations that they were neglected and abused.She relayed that as per routine, the CCPA took the children for medical attention the following day and it was confirmed by the medical certificate that the children were victims of neglect and maltreatment.Greene further stated that the Social Protection Ministry would take full responsibility for the tragic incident and bear the full cost of the funeral arrangements for the young children.
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