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Jun 28, 2016

Cleanup Campaign Continues in San Pedro

A massive cleanup campaign to remove a substantial amount of debris in the wake of an overnight fire in San Pedro continued this morning.  The flames eviscerated eleven buildings after midnight on Sunday, leaving eighty-eight persons homeless in what is quite possibly the worst fire in the island’s history.  A team of volunteers arrived at the site on Pescador Drive around six a.m. today and the men have been toiling diligently to get rid of the rubble at the site of the inferno.  The gargantuan task of clearing the area of all the litter is ongoing, and so is an investigation into the cause of the fire.  While San Pedro police have detained one man pending the outcome of a criminal investigation, fire officials are yet to determine the cause of the blaze.  According to Fire Chief Ted Smith, the department is working closely with the National Forensics and Science Services to ascertain if an accelerant was used to light the fire.

 

Ted Smith, Fire Chief, National Fire Service

“What we have so far from the investigative team is that the fire originated from the southeastern corner of the structure that belonged to August Tabony, where the fire originated from.  That is what we have so far.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“An investigation into the actual cause of the fire or whether this was a case of arson or of it was a situation where something accidentally got lit or sparked into a flame is ongoing?”

 

Ted Smith

Ted Smith

“We were unable to establish an ignition source; however, we, along with the police we have taken samples to be sent to the National Forensics Department so they could analyze it to see if traces of any accelerant can be found.  As I said, we established the area of origin but we were unable to establish any ignition source.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of the response, I know this is a question that you’ve had to answer several times over since this particular incident; however, in terms of the response from the fire department in San Pedro, was this adequate in terms of the time that they got there and of course the entire process of attempting to contain this fire?”

 

Ted Smith

“Response has to do with how long you take to arrive.  The fire was discovered by an individual who ran to the fire service, jumped on the fire truck and went along.  So the response was not a problem when the individual saw that fire, however, when the fire department arrived that structure was already developed but it was a wooden structure that was already engulfed.  It was closely congested.  I’m sure you’ve been out there Isani and looked at the area and I am sure you speak to people and look at the congestion of the area and the location of the fire.  So the response was not a problem.  If you are looking for an ideal situation where you have one, two, three or four trucks that responded, no we didn’t have that.  And we didn’t have five men that responded to the fire, nor six men.  That’s not the fire service that we have yet.  That’s the fire service we’d want to have but we’re still working on it.  We are now working on another recruit course.  We are doing interviews and assessment tests today and tomorrow as we try to increase our staff.  I am sure, as the chief, when that training is completed additional personnel will be sent out again to the island.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“This is the third major fire that I personally have covered in San Pedro and the issue of the local fire station being undermanned is a recurrent issue.  In this case, you are saying that following this particular recruit additional manpower will be deployed to San Pedro but it doesn’t speak to the fact that more resources in terms of equipment are need to fight these types of fire, in light of the fact that San Pedro is a growing town with multimillion dollar investments and huge infrastructures.  How do you address that issue?”

 

Ted Smith

“We will never have the ideal fire station, Isani; this is Belize we’re living in.  The situation is, we can only afford so much.  We have a police force that only has so much; we have a B.D.F. force that only has so much, we have a fire department that only has so much.  The ideal situation is that I would want to see three trucks on the island.  I’d want to see a substation on the island; I would like to see fifteen or twenty firefighters on the island.  But until such time this is what we have and we need to continue to do the best with what we have.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Cleanup Campaign Continues in San Pedro”

  1. Rod says:

    If I was one of these people and lost everything I would sue this incompetent impotent gov for failure to have the proper equiptment to handle how can you have a population so big and only have two fire trucks and only one working this is total lack neglect what have they been doing with all your tax money sue them sue them high. Make them pay you worthless gov.

  2. steven says:

    I live on Pescador drive, I am one of the lucky ones, my home is smoked out but it still stands. I personally congratulated the fire men that night for an excellent job done. Our fire chief Ted Smith is right, if we would have had 3 working fire trucks, 25 trained fire fighters, then this fire would have been contained in minutes, cause this fire started at midnight and was not under control until after 4am. Thou my home was not burned, my nerves and my family’s nerves were so gravely affected, nightmares, panic attacks, blood pressure shooting up, but I still feel lucky, because I have a home and my neighbours do not. I see the pain of trying to process that a life time of work and savings is now just a pile of ashes. San Pedro will band together and we will take care of the fire victims. Reef Radio and TV in San Pedro will be doing all all day fundraising effort on June 30, 2016, your help is appreciated. This will help the victims and they will be able to rebuild. But that should not be the end of this, what about a long term solution, why can we not give Mr. Ted Smith his 3 fire trucks and his crew of 25?? That is the true challenge? We need the best minds in San Pedro to put together this plan. Mayor Danny Guerrero, Area Rep Manuel Heredia as elected officials, you guys need to lead this project. Let us get all the organizations involved, let us get help and guidance from our many sister cities. Let us see how many millions this project will take and raise them, with the help of Government. We will not only need to fire trucks and firefighters , but proper water infrastructure to make sure we always have pressure, how about a couple of fire boats that can provide additional water to any fire, we are an island surrounded by water. Let us take advantage of that. The town council should provide the Fire Department with updated maps that show all the houses in town. The fire department can use these maps so they can plan so they can plan ahead where the closest water hydrants are, where the closest water source to the ocean is. We should have public service announcements that teach us about fire safety. All homes should have fire extinguishers, I currently do not have any in my home, as an example but I will purchase one for every room and I want the fire department to teach me how to properly use them. As a country we are failing in this area and it is the residents of Belize that suffer. I have had so many nightmares these past couple of days that for me, this is my way to vent, to release the stress of that horrific Sunday night. We as Belizeans deserve better and I hope that those in power can take time to make these changes happen, yes it will not be overnight but it should happen as soon as possible. UPD or PUP or any one in power, the government of the day should realize that our National Fire Service NEEDS HELP!!!

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