Family who lost home in fire to help others rebuild

A family who received unprecedented community support after their home was destroyed by fire aim to “pay it forward” by coming to the aid of another Cayman family who lost their home in similar circumstances. 

The Buttrum family have formed a demolition crew of community volunteers to go to Bodden Town on Saturday and assist Jake Manderson and his family in leveling their fire-damaged property. 

The home, which Mr. Manderson shared with his mother and 15-year-old brother, went up in smoke on July 4. Mr. Manderson said the wood and concrete structure, inherited from his grandparents, was around 100 years old, with extensions added over the years. He said the family had no insurance on the building, which would have to be torn down and rebuilt. 

They had raised some donations, including from AL Thompson and Flowers Block, but little attention had been paid to their predicament until a separate fire in George Town on July 25 left 17 people homeless. That fire sparked an outpouring of community support, coordinated by Matthew Leslie of the Cayman Islands Brewery, including donations of food, clothes, labor and equipment. Arch and Godfrey construction firm has also stepped in as project manager for the rebuilding of the family compound. 

Now the Buttrum family say they want to give something back by helping out Mr. Manderson and his family. 

Alwin Buttrum said, “The Buttrum family, along with the Windsor Park community, are forming a crew to go out there on Saturday and help to tear down the building and clean up and get them to where they can begin construction. 

“We have had a lot of blessings and we wanted to pass it on to them.” 

Island Waste Carriers, which helped tear down the remnants of the Windsor Park home last week, and Mr. Leslie will be among the volunteers assisting on Saturday. 

Mr. Buttrum said, “Hopefully we can get things started and motivate the Bodden Town community to come out and support them, like everyone has supported us.” Mr. Manderson said his family had been reaching out for donations but their plight went largely unnoticed until the Windsor Park fire galvanized community support. 

“A lot of people didn’t know about the Bodden Town fire till the other one happened in town,” he said. He added that it was humbling to get assistance from a family in the same predicament. 

“I am very grateful because they are in the same situation as us,” he said. “For them to reach out to us is amazing.” 

Mr. Leslie, who sparked the community response to the George Town fire with a series of Facebook posts, said he was helping get a team together to assist in Bodden Town. 

He said the community had shown its strength by coming together to help the Buttrums and he hoped people would do the same for Mr. Manderson and his family. 

“It is a very similar situation, it is just that nobody paid attention to it at the time,” he said. “I think fires do strike a chord, particularly when there are children involved. When a home full of memories goes up in smoke, that really affects people.” 

The home Jake Manderson shared with his mother and brother in Bodden Town was destroyed by fire last month.

The home Jake Manderson shared with his mother and brother in Bodden Town was destroyed by fire last month.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.



  1. Good to hear the community is extending its hand to another family in need. This is the right thing to do. Thank you Compass for publicity.
    How much does it cost to insure a house? Assisting a family that can’t afford a house insurance might be something to consider? If a house is uninsurable, may be it warrants a visit of a fire marshal? In such a case they might want to apply for assistance to bring it up to fire safety standards,making it insurable. Government’s Needs Assessment Unit might be the right place to apply for such an assistance.