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May 7, 2015

Fire Engulfs Home in Belize City

A fire gutted a small house on Aloe Vera Street in Belize City just before noon today. The homeowner was not at home when she heard the dreadful news that her house was on fire. On the night before the fire, there were threats of arson. While Caroline Hamilton believes it is arson, the fire department has not confirmed that the house was deliberately set on fire. Isani Cayetano reports. 

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A house fire on Aloe Vera Street shortly before noon today, has displaced a family of five.  The flames completely gutted the elevated, fiber cement structure, consuming everything within.  Incidentally, homeowner Caroline Hamilton had just visited the Family Court to seek a restraining order against a neighbor she has been having problems with when she was informed of the blaze.

 

Caroline Hamilton, Fire Victim

“I was upstairs of the Family Court di try fu seek fu get wah restraining order gainst dehn people, same one here when my phone ring and dehn tell mi, somebody ring me I noh even know da who, “Please hurry come home, yo house deh pan fyah.”

 

Caroline Hamilton

Dismissing the phone call as merely a practical joke would indeed prove to be true.

 

Caroline Hamilton

“I laugh and I seh, “Da joke yo di run.”  Dehn seh, “No. Come.”  When I get ya my house deh pan fyah fi true.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What have you lost as a result of this fire, in terms of personal belongings and that of your kids?”

 

Caroline Hamilton

“Mi baby dehn social [security] card.  Well I got my social [security] card, dehn bed, dehn refridge, dehn TV, everything gaan.”

 

Responding to the scene, a team of firemen quickly got to work extinguishing the fire.  Hamilton strongly suspects that her home was deliberately set ablaze, following an argument she had with her in-laws on Wednesday night.  Officials, on the other hand, would not speculate on the cause of the fire, except to say that it was incendiary.

 

Orin Smith, Station Manager, National Fire Service

“On arrival on the scene, a twenty by thirty Plycem structure with zinc roofing was seen engulfed in flames.  Heaviest flames were noticeably observed on the western half of the structure.  Following a brief size up firefighting immediately commenced and the fire was later brought under control and extinguished.  Preliminary investigation revealed that the fire originated in the room on the northwest of the structure.”

 

Orin Smith

From there, the flames would quickly spread to other parts, completely eviscerating the house.

 

Isani Cayetano

“In the wake of this tragedy have you made any kind of arrangements, at least to spend the night somewhere seeing as though you’re now left out of a place?”

 

Caroline Hamilton

“Yes, ah gwein da mi ma.  Mi ma wahn tek mi een wid mi baby dehn til ah could find somewhere fi go.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Could there have been any other way that this fire started, either an electrical fault or something?”

 

Caroline Hamilton

“No sir.  Ah di tell yo di God’s truth, I di ya so much days, no go no way and nothing happen to me.  Da just yesterday when dehn people threaten me sehe dehn wahn burn down my house, my house burn down.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“And it wouldn’t be a coincidence?”

 

Caroline Hamilton

“It wouldn’t be a coincidence.”

 

Orin Smith

“Electrical wiring within that area was examined and there were no indications of an electrical fault.  We understand that the structure was not legally receiving electrical current but that they were receiving some current.  However, according to the person we spoke to, a tenant at the residence, that feed was disconnected when they left the structure.”

 

While indications are that the fire may have been an act of arson, a motive is yet to be determined.  Meanwhile, Hamilton shared with us her theory of what may have led to the unfortunate incident.

 

Caroline Hamilton

“I am a marshal fu di committee by di drugstore.  Di police dehn come and find wahn engine eena di house deh and dehn ker di lee bwai dehn fu di engine and I went to the meeting and I repeat to the people dehn, two residents from back ya di thief engine ahn ker it.  So I replied to dehn, we cyant trust dehn.  Dehn gaan hyah it and dehn come back to me and tell me dat how I da wahn informer and me and my sista house wahn burn down back ya. Dah dehn burn down mi house.  Dehn know weh dehn do sir, all ah dehn know weh dehn do.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Did you at any point either file a police report or a formal complaint seeing as though you were being threatened that your premises would be burnt down?”

 

Caroline Hamilton

“Yes sir, I went and ah mek wahn reference.  Me and my sister Melissa Hamilton went to put down wahn reference that dehn threaten wi fu burn down wi house, right at di police station on Mahogany Street.  Ah have wahn statement deh.”

 

Neither the house, a gift from Minister of Human Development Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez, or Hamilton’s belongings were insured. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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