ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Fifty-one-year-old Tessa Garette, whose Villa residence was destroyed by fire, said she wants to clear her name of any suggestion she might have been stealing electricity from Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) after the supply was cut off in 2010.
“I had no dealings with the current at the house,” she said of her burnt dwelling.
“The electrical wire that was sparking is a wire that APUA left attached at the side of the house, even after they disconnected the wire on the metre.”
Garette said she was unaware that wire had electricity.
“It was a fireman who came to the scene who told me there was a wire from the post to the house and that it was not disconnected,” she said. “The metre wire was disconnected.”
She said APUA had removed the wire from the metre after the electrical bill remained unpaid for several years.
“The bill was $12,000 from since 1993 and I was not living there for all that time so I did not pay that sum. I went in to APUA to negotiate something but they eventually cut the lights,” Garette said.
“I want them to come and check the house to see whether anyone was tampering with the wire because I didn’t and the guy who was staying there didn’t. I wouldn’t encourage that. But I know now that some electricity was there, but I can not say if it caused the fire.”
Garette was among many onlookers at the scene of the fire Monday night, who witnessed when the sparks erupted from the electrical wires on the building.
She said she usually left a lantern lit inside the house and that night, she was out visiting a neighbour and her sister when she received news of the fire.
The teacher also dismissed suggestion from witnesses who said it appeared she had one of the two refrigerators in the house in use.
“I just finished paying for the new fridge and was looking to move to a place with electricity,” Garette said.
“I had no electricity. The containers I had in the fridge are things I normally store in there and I normally opened it and cleaned it often because when you store things in a fridge that is turned off, it would smell.”
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.