Belize City Fire Guts Berkley Street Residence
There have been four fires in the past sixteen days in the Belize District that have unfortunately been caused by children playing with lighters. The incidents have prompted the Fire Department to urge parents to keep matches and lighters away from children. This morning in separate areas of the City, fires swept through three houses. While there has been loss to property, luckily there has been no loss of life. Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
There was yet another fire today that destroyed two houses in the south side of Belize City. Around ten this morning, a two-storey wooden and cement house went up in flames. For the fourth time in a row, a child playing with a lighter set a mattress on fire; the blaze spread through the upper flat of the house and destroyed a pink and red elevated wooden house in the adjacent lot. Jenise Ramirez two children—ages six and four years—were in the upper flat of the building where the fire started. Her eldest son, it is believed accidentally started the blaze. According to Ramirez, the babysitter left her children unattended at home.
Jenise Ramirez, Fire Victim
“I went to work this morning and I asked my babysitter—she is my regular babysitter watching my kids—and I ask her everyday to keep at home with my kids, watch my kids every day until I done work from seven-thirty to five in the evening. I go to work every day and I come home every evening to take care of my children. I am a single mother, I work hard. No care what my kids dehn did, I love my kids. That is why I get an adult to watch them every day. My son tell me that the babysitter went home to bathe and they leave them in the house. I told her if me and my brother is not home and my roommate is not home, she got access to the whole house to bathe, change clothes, whatever she has to do till five in the evening. But so far, they told me that she been the go in and out and leave the kids home alone.”
“The kids told you what happen?”
“Yes, my son told me what happened. My four year old told me, mommy, Jermo light a paper fire and it ketch di mattress fire. He was trying to let it go and it ketch the mattress fire in their room. Ih say mommy I run and I frighten and I tell the lady downstairs fire, fire. I noh know who take them out to bring them out, but somebody call me at my work and tell me fire deh dah my house.”
The lower flat of the structure was rented by Merlene Andrews. The seventy-five year old woman says that it was Ramirez’s youngest son that alerted her. While she escaped unhurt, all she is left with are a coffee table and the clothes on her back.
Merlene Andrews, Fire Victim
“The babysitter say ih gwen go bathe, ih di come back. ih say ih left them di write. I noh think she get dah the lane when the lee one come and ih say Jermaine di light fire. Honestly I jump out the chair di try fi go up the step. She say smoke. I hail to my neighbor and say fire, ih say fire. Weh I so confused, I pick up wah lee thing fi out the fire. She di tell me come out I couldn’t even come out; dah the police man say Miss come out, come out. Ih ask anybody deh in there? I tell ahn the two pikney dehn done come out. That time, the house done under fire. Couldn’t say fi get nothing…just mi center table ah haul and here I am. This morning earlier, the children dehn deh ina the yard, this lady tell dehn unu noh go light no fire up there. ih say I wah buss unu rass—sorry about the word—and I gone and I tell dehn unu pick up the leaves. Noh know that dehn mi wah do this. But dehn unruly, unruly, unruly.”
While she is relieved that no one was injured in the inferno, Ramirez was overwhelmed because she had just recently purchased some household items that have been charred to rubble.
“I just done buy back everything in my house and I lose everything that I have. So I am asking to anybody in the public to help me or whatever to do…anything financial or material things that I lose. But I thank god that my kids safe, they are okay and they are out off the fire.”
The area is so congested and there was fear that the fire would have spread to the other houses in the immediate surroundings. Firefighters, however, were quick on scene to out the blaze.
Orin Smith, Station Manager, Nat’l Fire Service
“At ten-o-nine a.m., the National Fire Service had received and responded to a structural fire at number twenty-five Berkley Street, Belize City. On arrival on that scene, the upper flat of a two storey wooden and concrete structure was seen engulfed in flames. The National Fire Service got into operation and extinguished that fire. As a result of that fire, the rear or north section of the upper flat of a wooden two storey structure on the same premise with a number twenty-three Berkley Street address had received fire damage. Also a fourteen by fourteen wooden structure by a number seventy Plues Street address was also destroyed by fire. Investigation reveals that that fire had occurred as a result of a minor playing with a lighter tool.”
If anyone would like to assist Ramirez, they can contact her at 601-9339. Duane Moody for News Five.