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Jul 21, 2014

3 Families Displaced In the Wake of Weekend Fire

A fire swept through a wooden house on Friday night; in its wake three families were left homeless. All indications are that the blaze erupted in the upper flat of the building when a young child was playing with a lighter; it quickly spread throughout the entire building. Fortunately, there was no loss of life, but the belongings of the families were totally destroyed and only the walls of the lower flat of the building remained standing. Duane Moody has a report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

There was a fire in downtown Belize City on Friday night that left three families displaced. Sometime around eight-thirty p.m., the upper flat of a two-storey wooden house on Prince Street went up in flames. The fire started on the upper flat, which was completely gutted, but the lower flat received massive water damage. Sharday Arnold rented the upper flat and shared it along a roommate, the roommate’s boyfriend and their four children.

 

Sharday Arnold, Fire Victim

Sharday Arnold

“I began to smell smoke and I assumed it was my metal fan. I plugged it out of the wall, but then I still continued to smell the smoke. At that time I heard footsteps outside of my door so I opened my door and I saw my roommate’s two kids to my left and they were like Auntie, Auntie we need water. So I said what do you need water for? Then I looked to my right and their father came out of the room and he was crying asking for water. But I looked passed him at that time and when I looked into the room, I saw that the entire wall was engulfed in flames. So my instinct was to run downstairs to get assistance.”

 

The lower flat of the building was occupied by a third family. While the lower flat was not destroyed by fire, there was a lot of water damage to their belongings.

 

Sharetha Powell

Sharetha Powell, Sister of Fire Victim

“I was at work at the time it happened. It was actually a customer that came to me and told me that my sister’s house was on fire. At the time, I didn’t know what to do. I’m usually at work. Where I work, I don’t usually have a phone on me because I have to keep it in my locker. When I went inside the staffroom, I saw all the messages, all the calls. I didn’t even have the strength to pick up my phone to say make a call to see what was going on. It was totaled—upstairs totally damaged; downstairs well as you can see, I guess as my grandmother says, god is with my sister. My sister was over on that side just wondering what to do now.”

 

Within minutes of the inferno, firefighters were on the scene to extinguish the flames.

 

Orin Smith, Station Manager, Nat’l Fire Service

“We found the upper flat of a two story wooden structure engulfed in flames. The national fire service got into operation and extinguished that fire. Investigation revealed the fire occurred on a bed in a room on the south west corner of the upper flat of that structure. The cause of the fire is classified as accidental as a result of a minor playing with a lighter too. This is the second such fire in a very short time that has been the result of a minor playing with a lighter too.”

 

But was the fire caused by negligence? In less than two weeks, there have been two fires in the Belize District caused by children playing with fire. Station Manager at the National Fire Service, Orin Smith, cautioned parents and guardians.

 

Orin Smith

Orin Smith

“The national fire service takes this opportunity to once again appeal to the general public to please train the children that matches, lighters and lighted candles are tools for adults to use and not toys for children to play with. Children learn by watching adults and they will imitate what adults do. If they find these lighters, they will play with them naturally. You should teach the children that these things are not toys for them to play with. Also keep these things as much as possible far out of the reach of children.”

 

Neither the house nor its contents were insured. While all three families were renting from the owner, who lives in the U.S., all their household items and belongings were destroyed by the blaze.

 

Sharetha Powell

“My sister and my two brothers live downstairs; another young lady and another family lives upstairs. I don’t know where they live right now. I don’t know what their plan will be next, but right now, we are actually trying to figure out what we will do from here. My brothers and sisters, they have my house where they can stay at this time. But at the same time, their businesses are all gone. My brother he does games, CDs and so forth to sell; his two computers are damaged. My sister, she has her salon here and her stuff is destroyed.”

 

Sharday Arnold

“Who I’m seeking assistance from is from these ministers because it is not when election time you come and render assistance to poor people. It is time like this, when people get in these unfortunate situations, these are the times when they need to step up and show themselves—not only when election time to get a vote. So I’m seeking assistance from them.”

 

If anyone would like to assist….Powell can be contacted at 635-2083, while Arnold can be reached at 629-8744. Duane Moody for News Five.

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