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Nov 13, 2017

Overheated Refrigerator Causes City Fire

A Belize City family is without a roof over their head. A fire broke out at the Bilal’s residence at mile two and half on the Philip Goldson Highway on Saturday night and the family narrowly escaped with their lives. A refrigerator caused the fire that wiped out the family’s belongings. News Five’s Andrea Polanco spoke with the Bilal family today who is asking for help, as their house wasn’t insured.

 

Beatrice Bilal, Fire Victim

“Babe, God is great. God save me. Dah God got me right yah.”

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Beatrice Bilal is grateful that she is alive today after a fire destroyed her family home. This is what’s left of the Bilal’s residence after a fire ripped through the three-bedroom, wooden structure on Saturday night around eleven. Beatrice, her husband Yusef and their thirteen-year-old daughter were asleep inside when they woke up to the smell of smoke and that’s when they saw the flames:

 

Beatrice Bilal

“Dah like the sun, it red dah heat. I say, ‘bwai, dah fire.’ When I look out suh, I say mien di fire di come; the fire got wah vengeance, mussie 7 feet high.  I run fi the door now yuh know and I look and grab mi daughter. I say ‘Saddiya! Saddiya!’ I grab ah and hold ah yah suh she hold the phone and drop the phone and I tell ah ‘let’s go; nothing fi save! Let’s go.’  I run now, yuh undastand me and open the door and when the fire hit the metal – the lock – it burn mi hand and when I gone so because I mi have on wah night thing, it burn yah suh. I feel the heat and I gone so. I open the door and push and run downstairs but thanks to God weh save me; because maybe the smoke mussie mi wah.”

 

Beatrice Bilal

In a matter of minutes, Beatrice and her family lost everything in the fire – they were left with only the clothes on their backs. The house and the contents are valued at more than twenty thousand dollars. Beatrice says she needs help to rebuild.

 

Beatrice Bilal

“Right now I need wah place fi stay because I nuh got. I di stay dah mi sister-in-law weh di help me. She give me fi she bed. Thank God fi everybody weh di help me.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Suh now, you and yuh family unu lost everything?”

 

Beatrice Bilal

“Everything. We deh like alien. I nuh got nothing; This dah mi bag; no social security card; no passport.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Weh dah the value and everything weh unu lose?”

 

Beatrice Bilal

“Hmmm…I would say about twenty thousand dollars or it could be more because I mi got all mi things; mi crock-pot; refrigerator; stove. Everything I mi got. I mi plan and say I mi wah clean out mi house lee-bit lee bit and give weh to people.   I need help love. I need help from anybody weh come and God bless them, I get some clothes and God bless them dah good people.”

 

According to fire officials, the fire originated in the kitchen and then spread to the rest of the house. The fire started from a refrigerator and by the time the fire truck arrived on the scene, flames had engulfed the house.

 

Benisford Matura

Benisford Matura, Assistant Fire Chief

“We dispatched both units; the north side and the south side and eventually we dispatched another truck that we have here. We got into operation and extinguished this fire. Upon conclusion and in mapping up, we discovered that this cause of the fire is due to a refrigerator. It started in the kitchen area just behind the refrigerator and we discover that the motor had reheat and started this fire.”

 

Beatrice Bilal says her refrigerator has never mal-functioned and that day it was working. So, when she went to bed on Saturday night she never expected she would have to run out of her home because of a fire that started from one of her appliances. While she has lost all her material possessions and she and her husband suffered minor burns, she is happy that they escaped the blaze.

 

Beatrice Bilal

“I mi all time say my house wah destroyed by hurricane, neva know say it wah be fire. I mi di clean out mi house but God dah wah betta cleaner than me.   God got me yah because I could ah mi – plenty people I hear burn inna fire; baby burn. But dah the smoke weh get to me. It burn mi nose.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, you think you’re lucky to be alive today?”

 

Beatrice Bilal

“I am lucky to be alive. I mi got mi wits, so I neva startle. I neva tonti or nothing. I mi got mi wits. My husband di open the door but the knob hot and he turn it, babe. Thanks to God.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

If you’d like to help the Bilal family, you can reach them at 621-6485 or 667-1939.

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