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Sep 14, 2017

Gordon Street Homeowner Burnt Out; Watchman Dies in Flames

There was a deadly fire in the city this morning in which a watchman perished. The fire started at around nine a.m. in a two-storey wooden building at the rear of Martin Lemos’ property on Gordon Street in the Saint Martin De Porres area. The blaze spread to another structure before watchman Santiago Gonzalez could escape. His body was found among the rubble left behind by the fire. News Five’s Isani was first on the scene and alerted Lemos of the blaze.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A deadly house fire has claimed the life of an elderly tenant in the upper flat of this two-storey wooden structure.  Santiago Gonzalez, a night watchman residing at this Gordon Street address, lost his life this morning when the building he was occupying went up in flames.  Sometime around nine o’clock this morning, residents in the vicinity of Lawrence Avenue became alerted to the sight of flames and thick smoke emanating from a nearby property.  Homeowner Martin Lemos was away on business when I alerted him that his house was on fire.

 

Santiago Gonzalez

Isani Cayetano

“Dis da noh Martin Lemos house, right?”

 

On the Phone: Resident

“Martin from city council.”

 

On the Phone: Martin Lemos, Homeowner

“Hello.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Martin, your house is on fire bro.”

 

On the Phone: Martin Lemos

“Huh?”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Your house is on fire Martin.”

 

On the Phone: Martin Lemos

“Oh okay.  Thanks for telling me.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“You have to come now bro, your house is burning.”

 

On the Phone: Martin Lemos

“Yes, yes.  Alright.”

 

It would be another few minutes before Lemos would arrive on the scene of the fire, prompting another phone call from me.

 

On the Phone: Martin Lemos

“Hello”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Martin, how far away are you?”

 

On the Phone: Martin Lemos

“Ah deh right outta town, but ah wahn reach by deh eena di next seven minutes.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Martin, yoh house almost completely burned down you know.”

 

On the Phone: Martin Lemos

“Yeah, yeah.  You noh sih mi wife deh?  I done call she already.  Ih just di reach by deh.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Alright… Hurry up bro.”

 

By the time Lemos got there, little could have been done to save the property at the rear of his house.  The National Fire Service was on the scene within minutes of the initial alert.

 

Orin Smith

Orin Smith, Station Manager, National Fire Service

“This morning at 9:00, we received reports from the police of a structural fire at 8467 Gordon Street in Belize City.  Two units were dispatched to that location.  On arrival at the scene we found the lower flat of a two-storey wooden structure fully engulfed in flames.  The western half of the upper flat of that same structure was also engulfed in flames.  In front of that structure we had another wooden structure approximately two feet away from the two storey wooden structure.  The southwest section of that structure was also engulfed in flames.  Following a brief size up the National Fire Service went into operation to extinguish the fire.  The fire was later brought under control and extinguished.”

 

According to Lemos, he left home before eight o’clock this morning.

 

Martin Lemos

Martin Lemos, Fire Victim

“I left from ya like bout 7:30.  Da just when I guess you call and when I come di place done burn down already.  So I noh know.  I noh know.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Have you had a chance to go inside and see what all you’ve lost to the fire, what damages were done?”

 

Martin Lemos

“No, when I come I sih da lee house da back deh done di burn down.  Right deh by da house deh, done damage pan di house top and di flooring.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now you live to the front Martin, your property was it completely damaged?”

 

Martin Lemos

“By my house da just wahn lee part by di back weh part I live, but di one da back, that completely burn down.”

 

Inside the house was Lemos’ tenant, an elderly watchman who has been renting a room upstairs for the past several months.  He lost his life during the fire.

 

Martin Lemos

“Santiago he dah wahn good person.  He rented like about six or eight months and he mi di live right deh.  He always pay di rent and everything.  He mi di work security by Rosado, I noh know if da by di highway by Publics.  He work da night then he come sleep ya da day. Then this happened.”

 

Orin Smith

“The body did not appear to have any burn damage on it.  I believe that he may have been overcome by or I would assume, at least to say, that he was overcome by smoke inhalation, however, an autopsy would confirm the cause of death. He was discovered during the overhaul, that is after the fire has already been extinguished.  We were not given any information as to whether anyone was trapped inside the building upon our arrival on the scene.”

 

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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