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Mar 16, 2017

Fatal Flash Fire Traps 86-Year-Old Louise Berry

There have been two fires in the past two days in Belize City, one of which was fatal for an elderly woman. The most recent fire occurred just after one a.m. today as members of an Iguana Street household were in slumber. The fire started within a small wooden structure at the back of the property, trapping eighty-six-year-old Louise Berry inside. Despite all efforts to get her out, she perished in the blaze. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A most tragic inferno overnight on Iguana Street claimed the life of an elderly woman, asleep inside her room. Just after one a.m., relatives were awoken by the crackling sound of a fire at the rear of the yard.  Inside the dwelling at the time was eighty-six-year-old Louise Berry, who despite efforts to get her out, perished in the blaze. Berry’s stepsister, Gretel Lopez says that she had been living there for over four decades. Her sons came to her assistance, but unfortunately, she couldn’t be saved.

 

Gretel Lopez

Gretel Lopez, Sister of Deceased

“So I jump up, but I say…they one holler weh di happen to chief out there. So we di race now fi come out and see and same time one holler, “Granny, fire…dah Louise.” And I said, “Oh my God.” And I dash out, but when I dash out, yo see the blaze. And my sons dehn mi di—see the hose still deh yah—weh dehn mi di try out it and throw water. I gone outside and when I di ask, how Louise, dehn only look pan me. So from the time dehn look, I done know that ih never get fi come out.”

 

Firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after to extinguish the blaze, and after a quick size-up, got into operation. As the fire was under control, firefighters found Berry’s body under a sheet of zinc near the entrance to her room.

 

Benisford Matura

Benisford Matura, Operations Officer, National Fire Services

“Both fire apparatus was dispatched to the area; the address was Iguana Street where there were five different dwellings in that yard. The one that caught fire was the one that Misses Louise Berry, an eighty-six year old woman. It was an eight by ten structure and unfortunately it got engulfed real fast.”

 

Duane Moody

“When fire officials got on the scene, were they able to ascertain whether the woman was still alive at that point in time?”

 

Benisford Matura

“No…by the time we arrived there, she was already probably overcome by the smoke and passed away.”

 

Gretel Lopez

“When they come they work this way and work through the next way with the hose and they really did a good job and worse when they hear the person inside, they really did a good job because dah they broke the thing to see help get in. They find ahn because my son says that piece of zinc mi deh pan ahn and a piece of board weh fall down.”

 

Duane Moody

“It’s a cruel way to die.”

 

Gretel Lopez

“Mi grandson weh see when dehn mi di ake ahn up; ih say Gran ih noh have no hair on ih head. Ith look terrible, well I could imagine.”

 

Lopez and fire officials believe that a lit candle may have caused the fire.

 

Benisford Matura

“I can say it is not electrical. Investigations also picked up that; the neighbors would say that she has that tendency of although she has current, she has that old-folks’ tendency to keep a candle light. We are still out there investigating, but we are leaning towards that. But we just have to certify that that’s what caused the fire.”

 

Gretel Lopez

“Fi me, I say the candle. She mussi get one inside and light it. And the lee space, the lee table, done congested. I noh know if ih had it set ina any container or just light it and set it right there. I figure dah mussi that; ih got to be. Maybe a mice fly pass…something.”

 

Duane Moody

“…because she didn’t have anything in there otherwise that would combust?”

 

Gretel Lopez

“No, no….nothing.”

 

There were several gas tanks in proximity of the fire; quick response by Lopez’s relatives, however, averted what could have been even more tragic.

 

Gretel Lopez

“That neva feel too good. I say oh God, I wonder if they move the gas tank. Mi son say yes ma dehn done move that gas tank. And just a week, we put it outside.”

 

Duane Moody

“Just put it outside?”

 

Gretel Lopez

“Last week for the same reason.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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