Screen_Shot_2015-11-30_at_8.07.07_PMOver the weekend tragedy hit the Old Capital as a building located inside the compound of the Princess Royal Youth Hostel caught fire on Saturday and claimed the life of three females.

After the blasé was extinguished the charred remains of 16 year old Anna Melinda Carlos, 14 year old Elizabeth McKoy and 16 year old Shadisha Alma Arnold were removed from inside what was left of the building.

Reports are that the three girls had been placed on lockdown after they attempted to escape from the facility on Friday. Investigations revealed that one of the females lit a pillow with a lighter and that is when disaster struck.

Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation with the Department

“At this time it is our understanding that three of the girls went a while the day before were presumably planning another escape, the plan was to start the fire in order to create a distraction this would prompt the officer to open the door and let them out and they would run away while the officers were occupied trying to out the fire, shortly after 2pm one of the three girls who was confined in the room called out the officer and said that one of the girls in the room had lit a pillow and that there was a fire. We are not certain how quickly the girls called for help but from the various accounts we received the fire was already in a huge blaze on the top  bunk when the officer went to the room to check on the girls this was collaborated by some of the females who were in the building along with the officer  at the time, the officer then proceeded to try open the pad lock which was on the door but had difficulty opening the lock, the girls inside started to panic and in an effort to try to out the fire the girls who had started the fire put a blanket on top of the flame and  this fed the fire all accounts are that the fire spread very quickly and since the room is small the smoke soon engulfed the entire room making it difficult for them to see, the second officer was called from the basketball court and she came in and took the keys from the other officer and also attempted to open the door she stated that she could not because the smoke was too heavy some persons attempted to break through the wooden wall at the back of the building by the time they had broken through the fire had already engulfed the building and the children, the children could not be saved, this is a terrible dramatic experience for the children and staff who were present at the time of the incident and of course for the families.”

Screen_Shot_2015-11-30_at_8.06.03_PMToday there are more questions than answers surrounding the case and one of them is how the victims were allowed to walk into the room with a lighter? That is being investigated, says Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation with the Department.

Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation with the Department

“That is one of the things we are trying to figure out what happened as well it started from the day before our questions are whether or not proper procedures were followed after children if specific protocols that should have been followed and so we have to step back to the day before when they returned were those protocols followed protocols for search protocols for separation and so we are trying in the process of sequence of events that where that went wrong, they should have been searched upon entering thoroughly search by a female officer and along the lines there were some things that did not followed procedure and that is what we are trying to ascertain along the lines who should have done what and where that fell through even searches because at the institution we do random searches of  the dorms and the rooms  in general so were the searches done thoroughly.”

We understand that three persons have been placed on administrative leave as the investigation continues. Margaret Nicholas, former Director of the Family Court has been named as person who will lead the investigation into the matter and the oversight will come from UNICEF.

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