Monday, November 30, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: Shock, grief, disbelief and then inevitable outrage gripped all those who heard the news that three teenage girls perished Saturday afternoon in a fire at the female dormitory at the Youth Cadet Corps Facility at Mile 21 on the George Price Highway.
The outrage came from the report that the three teens aged 14, 16 and 17 were under lock and key in a dorm and therefore could not get out because they were trapped and the sole officer on duty at the Female dorm could not find the key to free them. All other minors in the female dormitory, the last wooden structure located along the roadside, were successfully evacuated without injury.
It has now been confirmed the three girls had been secluded for having attempted to run away on Friday.
Today the Police and Human Development Department began trying to present answers. Officer Commanding CIB, Supt. Hilberto Romero says police have formed a task force to investigate the incident.
We are told that the girls appeared to be huddled together as if hugging each other, at the moment of their passing. Their door had been locked at the start of their confinement.
Unconfirmed reports at this time are that the fire may have been started from inside the same holding dorm with a lighter and pillow.
We are told that employees tried to break down the door but the attempts were futile since they were unable to break through the iron bars. Starla Bradley, Director of Community Rehabilitation with the Department, says there are many unanswered questions, starting with why the door was locked in the first place, and who was in charge at the time.
Social workers and other police, mostly females, were called in to exercise control in the fire’s aftermath. In recent history, there have been at least three fires reported at the Youth Hostel, some of them designated as arson. However, none have been fatal until now.
Three persons are on administrative leave as the investigation continues. But CEO in the Ministry of Human Development Judith Alpuche said she would not pass judgment at this time, although the Ministry is prepared to face judgment of its own.
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