Single father, daughters now homeless after house fire

Single parent father Dillon Cooper grabbed his daughters and ran out of their burning house in Moruga on Thursday night after a candle ignited the wooden house.

Though he managed to save his girls, Cooper was unable to save his house which burnt to the ground.

The fire officers who responded to the call took a wrong road and by the time they arrived, the entire house had gone up in flames.

Dillon said this was the second tragedy he suffered after his brother Anton Cooper was killed by three prison officers at Golden Grove more than a decade ago.

Speaking at the scene of the smouldering ruins, Cooper said he did not know how to rebuild his life.

"Right now, I am just walking aimlessly. I don't know where I will sleep. I feel I will just stay right here under that tree because if I go to stay by someone else, I would not sleep," Cooper said.

His daughters have already gone to stay by their aunt a short distance away. Even though the girls lost all their possessions, Cooper still sent them to the Sixth Company Anglican Primary  School yesterday.

"Their aunt had two extra uniforms and she gave it to them," Cooper said. The house where they lived for 15 years was not outfitted with electricity and Cooper said a candle left lighting inside may have fallen and ignited their couch. He said he was asleep when he smelt smoke and came out in time to see the couch and room ablaze.

"I had to reverse. The fire was too much. We could not save anything," he added. Cooper said his children live with him throughout the week but spends weekends with their mother at another location.

However, he said he was the sole breadwinner.

"I do everything to make their lives better. I am a labourer but I do every kind of job as a single father," he added. Cooper said he wanted a better life for his children aged 10 and 11.

"I don't want to build back a plyboard house with no electricity. If I get some plywood and so on I will take it but I am hoping that I could do something better for them," Cooper said.

MP for Moruga Dr Lovell Francis visited Cooper yesterday and commended him for sending his daughters to school despite the distress.

Urging Cooper not to sleep under a tree, Francis assured that he will do whatever is possible to assist Cooper in getting a safe place for his children. 

"I am happy to hear you say that you don't want to go back with a plyboard house. I will make arrangements with the Ministry of Social Services to assist you in renting a house for about six months and during this time we will see if we can build back a decent house for you.

He said under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development's Home Village Improvement Programme (HVIP), 30 concrete houses have been built at Samuel Cooper Trace for the Merikins community.

He said using funds from this programme he will seek to rebuild Cooper's home.

Anyone wanting to assist Cooper can contact him at 369-6471/ 298-5936.

- by Radhica De Silva. Photo by Rishi Ragoonath.


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