Missionary sheds light on Haitian orphanage fire

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SCRANTON, LACKWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — We’re learning more about that deadly fire at an orphanage in Haiti last week and the local religious groups that supported the orphanage.

A missionary reached out to Eyewitness News after our story aired yesterday. She says she wants to shed light on the Church of Bible Understanding and its ties to Haiti.

An American missionary living in Haiti is hoping to shed light on the Scranton-based Church of Bible Understanding and its ties to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Yvonne Trimble, a missionary with Haiti for Christ Ministries says she has seen how the church operates in the country and wants them held accountable for the deaths of more than a dozen children.

The Church of Bible Understanding’s orphanage which caught fire the morning of Valentine’s Day is located just a mile away from her home. In that fire, two children burned to death while another 13 died from smoke inhalation.

“They were burning candles at night so they could see in the orphanage,” Trimble said.

Trimble has been a missionary resident in Haiti since 1978 and says that orphanages in the country have backup generators because the country’s government only provides two to four hours of electricity a day. She says the generator was not working and the orphanage did not have fire extinguishers.

“In American terms this is negligent homicide,” Trimble said. “Fifteen counts of negligent homicide should be brought against the Church of Bible Understanding.”

In response, Trimble filed an IRS tax-exempt organization complaint against the church. As Eyewitness News has previously researched, the Church of Bible Understanding claims more than $19 million in assets and claims to spend around $600,000 a year funding its two Haitian orphanages.

Ashley Blevins, a former member of the Church of Bible Understanding says what happened in Haiti is devastating.

“Circumstances, you know, play out where you can’t get something immediately available or something dies out and you have to replace it,” she said.

Blevins was a member of the church for a year before getting out when she was 16 years old. Her father spent more than 30 years working with the church on and off to help the two orphanages in Haiti.

“I fully believe they do care about the people there,” Blevins said.

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