Two minutes after Ian Falconer dumped water from two drums on to a raging fire on Sunday, he peered through the smokey haze to see a little hand gripping an old bed. That hand was his three-year-old son’s.Falconer, an 18-year veteran assigned to the Port Maria Fire Station in St Mary, had heroically battled many blazes in the past but now faced the boldest mission of his career: saving Kadjahni.
The firefighter drove the toddler to the hospital but noticed he was not breathing. Froth was coming from his mouth.
“I just kept praying that he would not die,” said Falconer, who himself suffered burn injuries trying to rescue his son.
“That was all I could have done, but not even prayer could have saved him. He was that badly burnt.”
The three-year-old perished after being badly burnt in an out-of-use slaughterhouse the family owned in Mason Hall.
“Children have been so precious to me, but to hold my own son in my hand, to hear him screaming from inside a building engulfed by flames, has left me with a haunting feeling of unimaginable loss,” said Falconer, the father of four others, as tears rolled down his cheeks.
The Port Maria police reported that young Kadjahni, who attended the Emmanuel Baptist Basic School in Port Maria, had accidentally set the hut on fire while playing with a lighter, which ignited a jug with gasolene that exploded.
Falconer told The Gleaner that he returned home on Sunday with his two sons and one of their cousins and went about preparing a meal.
After eating, Falconer said the boys went by the old family-owned slaughterhouse that was used as a storehouse to play.
PLUNGED INTO INFERNOAbout 10 minutes later, four chilling words from one of his sons alerted to him to danger: “Daddy! Daddy! Come here!”
Falconer started running towards the blazing hut and plunged into the inferno to save little Kadjahni. But he was too late.
“I heard him scream from inside the building and I ran inside there. At first, I couldn’t see him; it was totally engulfed,” the inconsolable father said.
“... As a firefighter, you are trained for this kinda things, but somehow I just knew the result of this one,” he added, fighting back tears.
The child’s mother, who has not returned home from Canada where she is studying because of a travel freeze into Jamaica, is said to be distraught.
“She has taken it really hard, and to make things worse, she has no one there. She lives alone. I cannot imagine what she is bearing now,” Falconer said of his wife.
Falconer said Kadjahni was the last to bed at nights and always the first to rise in the morning, displaying a curious mind beyond his tender years.
“Kadjahni is always asking me to name the tools I had around the place. He always wanted to know what I was doing, even when I am working on things around the house,” Falconer said.
Senior Deputy Superintendent Anthony Hinds, the acting officer in charge of the Jamaica Fire Brigade’s Area Two, yesterday offered condolences alongside his staff.
“We came here to visit him to give him some support during this challenging time, because losing a son in this manner cannot be easy,” Hinds said.