Photo byArianna McKinney
A brand new TV and DVD player are now just charred pieces of metal. The fridge is still standing but it is ruined. All that is left are ashes in what used to be 89-year-old Argentina Matarrita Arroyo’s home in Panama in the district of Samara, just past Barco Quebrado.
On Thursday, January 31, in the early hours of the morning, Argentina’s son, Alvaro Matarrita Arroyo, 67, went through his normal routine, waking up to get ready for work, cooking some rice and a piece of meat on a small wood fire. But when he left for work, the fire was still going and a spark set the entire house aflame.
Another son of Argentina, Norman Moraga, who lives next door, saw the house on fire and kicked in the door to get inside and rescue his mother, according to Yessica Moreno Matarrita, granddaughter of Argentina.
According to the Samara Public Force records, the fire started around 5:35 a.m. The police arrived on the scene at 6:15 a.m. and the Nicoya fire department arrived at 6:50 a.m., but by then the house was completely gone.
Moreno related that when Norman rescued Argentina, she was asleep and later wondered, “Why did they take me out of the house?” she was told what happened, and realizing that her dentures burned with the house, she wondered how she would eat. She is currently staying with her daughter, who is taking care of her and feeding her soft foods until the dentures can be replaced.
Moreno also related that after Norman got Argentina out of the house, they tried to spray the fire down with a hose but it was too far gone, so instead they turned their attention to wetting down Norman’s house right next door to prevent it from catching fire too.
Alvaro was brought home from work so he could give declarations to the police. Later he and other family members worked with shovels and wheelbarrows to clean up the rubble left by the fire. He still isn’t sure where he will be staying now that the house is gone, although he will likely stay with another relative.
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