Security concerns spike after elderly home set ablaze

Security concerns spike after elderly home set ablaze
The abandoned structure that once served as the home's main building was destroyed by fire.
  • Three officers injured while extinguishing fire

  • Area MP condemns the act as “sinister, cowardice, and hateful”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — An abandoned building at the Persis Rodgers Home for the Aged was razed early Sunday morning in what officials believe was an unprecedented act of arson.

Caretakers told Eyewitness News the attack on the elderly home located on Hawthorn Road, off Farrington Road, came just two days after an attempted break-in.

Persis Rodgers Home for the Aged

Chief Superintendent Walter Evans said firefighters responded to reports of a fire shortly before 5 am and met the unoccupied building engulfed in flames.

As officers battled the blaze, a part of the building collapsed, injuring three firefighters who had to be hospitalized.

According to Evans, those officers were said to be in stable condition.

No other injuries were reported as a result of the blaze.

Police found evidence that the arsonist also attempted to set fire to an administrative building — one of three structures that house senior citizens.

The administrative building houses 12 residents.

Twenty-two senior citizens reside at the facility, according to the administration.

Caretaker and supervisor Arianne Knowles, 36, said residents were shaken by the ordeal with some needing to be counseled.

She noted there was an attempted break-in on Thursday, when someone tried to pry open the door of the administrative building and another dormitory block.

Knowles said the residents were too scared to look outside during the attempted break-in.

She has worked at the home for 11 years and said the act of arson was unprecedented.

A firefighter can be seen spraying smoldering rubble with water late Sunday afternoon.

Knowles added the historic building was scheduled for demolition after it was found to have asbestos.

“The residents who live here, the tenants, it had them shaken up,” she told Eyewitness News following the Sunday blaze.

“They were really scared. And then, the workers were also scared as well.”

She continued: “We have a male section and a female section. The males had to come over in the female section because so much smoke came into the building.”

Yesterday, St. Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright called the incident a “sinister and cowardice act” of hate, which should was “deeply troubling and should enrage every Bahamian”.

“I’ve communicated with both the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the administration of the Persis Rodgers Home regarding the incident and ongoing security measures,” Cartwright said in a statement.

“We are ultimately grateful that there were no lives lost and no injuries to any of the residents of the home.

“This despicable and criminal act is under intense investigation by the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

“We join with all in the Oakes Field Community and Bahamians everywhere in condemning this reprehensible, hateful and deliberate targeting of our nations most prized possession, our elderly.

“May God continue to cover them and keep them.”