Fire destroys four Quarry Street homes in New Year celebrations

By Hanan Redwan Published on January 02, 2022
Fire destroys four Quarry Street homes in New Year celebrations

They can create a spectacular display in the night sky, but it meant complete disaster for the residents whose four homes were gutted by fire along Quarry Street in Port-of-Spain.

They are now calling for a ban on the sky or fire lanterns as an eyewitness claimed it was one of the illuminated paper lanterns that started the blaze just after midnight on New Year’s Day.

When Guardian Media visited the neighbourhood in the morning yesterday, some of the burnt out houses were still smouldering, and just the shell of Brian McKenzie’s car and home were left.

A Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) pole was lying on the ground, T&TEC trucks were on the scene, and work crews installed a 12-metre bar and provided electricity to the neighbourhood.

Speaking to Guardian Media yesterday, Nicole Bennett said,

“I heard ‘Happy New Year’. We were inside; I now walk outside with the bag of fireworks for my daughter to light up one firework. When I looked back, my neighbour came running down and said she smelled smoke.

My entire backroom was engulfed in flames; we ran down the side of the house to see how bad it was. The two children’s bedrooms were gone, my room was fully engulfed, I tried to run back inside to see what I could save and I got burned,” she said emotionally.

She said it happened in less than five minutes and her family of eight was now homeless.

Bennett said lanterns were not anything to play with.

She urged people to remember that they were for illumination for ships in the ocean that couldn’t find the shore and were not meant to use on land.

She said lanterns were a fire hazard and could land anywhere and indiscriminately burn down someone’s house.

Bennett said many homes and lives were affected by that one reckless act and lantern.

As a result of the fire, she spent the first day of 2022 temporarily staying at the St Hilda’s Government Primary School, waiting for word from members of her family who she’s expected to stay with.

Video of the fire showed plumes several metres high into the air, and some residents could be heard telling fire officers that the blaze crossed the street and began burning houses on the other side.

Another witness, Onika Pasqual-Medina, attached to the Port-of-Spain CID, said she went up on her roof to record the fireworks and saw a red object floating in the night sky.

She reported watching the fire lantern touch down on a roof, and a fire broke out.

Pasqual-Medina recounted shouting fire to alert the people in the road, but they could not hear her over the noise of the fireworks. She told a relative to call the T&T Fire Service, then she ran down the steps to try and assist, but the blaze engulfed the houses rapidly as they were mainly wooden structures.

Nicholas Greene and his fiancee Anastacia Grant escaped their burning house unharmed and managed to save their pet dog; the fire consumed everything else they owned.

He said he was thankful for life; it could have been worse, but at the same time, it was ‘not nice.’

Greene said that fireworks should be banned.

Grant related that they still had to quantify their losses, including a refrigerator, computer, large screen television, PS3, school books, stove, beds, furniture and wardrobe.

She said people were reaching out to help them as best as possible but noted it would take time.

She, too, called for a ban on fireworks.

Brian McKenzie was sleeping when his brother alerted him to the fire.

He said they got out in time. However, he didn’t get a chance to save his academic documents and cellphone.

McKenzie confided that his brother was autistic and would use the time to rebuild their future and appealed to the relevant authorities for assistance.

One of the victims, Nicole Bennett, has asked anyone willing to assist her and her family to contact her at


Hanan Redwan

Hanan Redwan

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