Fire-affected residents gather with their belongings along East Street in downtown Kingston while their homes are being  destroyed by fire. (PHOTOS: Llewellyn Wynter)Fire-affected residents gather with their belongings along East Street in downtown Kingston while their homes are being destroyed by fire. (PHOTOS: Llewellyn Wynter)

Approaching the Christmas season, the time of greatest sharing, caring and togetherness among families and close community members annually, some 27 persons from 10 families have been left homeless by a fire of unknown origin which gutted two houses along East Street in downtown Kingston on Friday.

Reports are that about 2:45 pm, members of the public who were travelling in the area, saw smoke coming from the structures that were being used by a large group of inner-city residents as a tenement settlement, and raised an alarm.

An official from the Jamaica Fire Brigade said five fire units from the York Park and Half-Way Tree stations responded to the blaze, and the firefighters spent close to an hour trying to bring the blaze under control.

Thankfully, at the end of the operation, no one was injured, but the ordeal left several of the residents absolutely distraught about their next move in an effort to rebuild their lives, especially the likely despondency among the group going into the upcoming festive season.

Thomas Higgins, a 63-year-old man, was seen standing with his hands on his head and looking in a daze.

“Right now mi loose most of mi items. I don’t know what I am going to do, especially with Christmas just around the corner,” Higgins told Loop News.

He was not alone in his personal circumstances.

Donovan Smith, 54, shared similar sentiments.

“Me just leave the house and go down the road to do some business when a get a call say the house on fire,” said Smith.

Similar to Higgins, Smith managed to save very little.

“Most of my things gone, but once there I life there is hope,” declared Smith.

The police have launched an investigation into the source and circumstances of the fire.

East Street Fire