Beacon of the day | Baby hero returns to burnt house

Courtney Marshall, his daughter Merissa Marshall, and the house

Four-year-old Merissa Marshall yesterday returned to the scene of a house fire, seemingly oblivious to the reason both of her parents have joined other members of her community in describing her as a hero.

She was the first to realize that her parents’ two-bedroom house was being destroyed by fire about 8PM on Saturday (July 4) at Cats Corner on Grove Road in Linstead, St. Catherine.

After noticing that the fire was consuming everything in its way, the child woke up her mother, Felicia Marshall, who told The Beacon that she probably would have been dead if her daughter had ignored the blaze.

She explained that, when she woke up, the house was virtually engulfed in flames. She had enough time to only grab the child and dash from the building – barefooted and skimpily dressed.

Asked if she considers her daughter a hero, Mrs. Marshall said: “In a sense, I would consider her a hero because, if my daughter never wake mi up, probably mi would be on the other side.”

The child’s father, Courtney Marshall, better known as ‘Shorty’, is also amazed by his daughter’s heroics.

“My daughter is the one that helped her mother to escape this ordeal, because her mother was just about to take a bath and just lie down to cool off and doze away when the fire start. My little daughter is the one that run and wake her up,” said Mr. Marshall, who was not at home when the fire started.

He said his daughter is very active and promising, adding that they have a strong bond.

“I call her my little princess and my little warrior. She is now a little hero as far as I am concerned,” he declared.

“I am not saying my daughter is more brilliant than any other child, but for a four-year-old to do what she has done it is God who spoke through her for that to happen.”

Mr. Marshall, who said fire personnel theorized that the blaze resulted from electrical problems, revealed that his family has been provided with temporary accommodation elsewhere in Linstead.

He visited the destroyed house yesterday – looking in disbelief.

“I just don’t know where to start or how I am going to start, but with God all things are possible. I am a Christian-believing person, so I trust God that he will help us to get back on our feet,” said Mr. Marshall, who has been a Christian for some 16 years.

He said he lost all his material possessions, including a refrigerator he bought and took home a few hours before the fire. He didn’t even get a chance to start using it.

Mr. Marshall, in the meantime, expressed gratitude that persons in the Linstead area have been reaching out to his family.

He said his most cumbersome task is to have the house rebuilt.

“We are going to have to start all over again rebuild because the walls [of the house] are porous because of the fire. I am asking for help from anyone who can help us with either cash or kind,” said Mr. Marshall, who does odd jobs to make a living.

He disclosed that he once was employed as a security guard – something he would do again if he gets an opportunity. “I am a person that work very hard to support my family and to get my things sorted out. I am not a mix-up person; I am not a war boat,” Mr. Marshall added.

He told The Beacon that he inherited the house from his late grandfather, and has been living at the Grove Road location since he was in secondary school.

He had a steady flow of well-wishers into his home yesterday. They all spoke highly of him.

Maxine Gordon said she cried when she heard about the loss.

“I can’t even talk about it. I cried so very much to know he is coming from a poor little youth to where he is at now,” she told The Beacon. “Mr Marshall is a very hard-working person; he is a helpful person in the community. He works on the road most times cleaning the gutter for the parish council; he is not a man who stays at home.”

One of Mr. Marshall’s elderly neighbours, who spelled his name Sigisigimonday Belonfante, expressed hope that the fire victims will get assistance. He further said: “Mr. Marshall is a good friend of mine long time; I know him from school days. Sometimes when him work, he help to give me some work – very kind. We live in the same district; he is a hard-working young man and honest.”

ALSO READ: Four-year-old girl saves mother from house fire in Linstead


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