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May 11, 2018

Homeowner Blames Fire Service for Lost House; Firefighters Say Illegal Connection Overloaded

An early morning blaze completely destroyed a wooden home on the south side of Belize City. But tonight the question is – did those fourteen persons, nine adults and five children, really had to be without a roof over their heads following an electrical fire?  The homeowner and occupants do not believe so and now they are pointing fingers at G.O.B.  They say that the dated fire trucks failed them today and, well, the fire department also acknowledged that shortcoming. News Five’s Andrea Polanco has the story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Fourteen persons in Belize City are without a home tonight, after a fire wiped out everything they owned. Around seven-thirty this morning, a fire broke out inside the upper flat of this two-storey wooden home on Iguana Street Extension – and from there it spread to the lower flat where three rooms were being rented. Two persons were asleep upstairs and when they woke up they saw fire coming from the roof – they quickly ran out. Owner Reynold Lamb was heading home this morning – when he arrived only a portion of the house was on fire but the quick response from the Fire Service didn’t help much because one of the trucks experienced mechanical failure. Today, Lamb is pointing fingers at G.O.B. because he says his house didn’t have to burn to the ground.

 

Reynold Lamb

Reynold Lamb, Fire Victim

“When I came here at my house, it was only the roof mi di ketch. The fireman deh deh yah di spray the wata and thing. When yuh look, the fire pump run outta wata and the walls dem fi the upper flat neva touch yet; it was only the roof.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, how did everything burn?”

 

Reynold Lamb

“What happen is I think that to me if the Government would give the Fire Service the necessary things to do their job, it would have saved my house today – it probably would have only been the roof.  I think the Government failed me today.”

 

And that is what we asked the Fire Department today – could Lamb’s house have been saved? Deputy Fire Chief Benisford Matura outlines the fire-fighting and shares their version of what happened this morning.

 

Benisford Matura

Benisford Matura, Deputy Fire Chief

“We got into operations and started fire extinguishment with one of our units. We had the fire sort of knocked down and when we decided to use the other unit, we had a mechanical problem with the other unit, hence the reason the people in the neighborhood thought that the truck got there without water. The truck did reach with water. We had a mechanical problem where the gears that transfer the power to the pump, one of the gears had stripped and hence the reason we couldn’t pump water from that truck. So, basically, the struck sat there and we could not get it out. Our alternative means of source was to remove one of the trucks and get it to the nearest hydrant to refill and that is how we ended up extinguishing the fire. It is an unfortunate case but that is what occurred and we tried our best to remedy it as best as we could.”

 

Reporter

“So, had this not happened, could Mister Lamb’s house be saved?”

 

Benisford Matura

“Yes. We would have done a better fire fighting. We would have executed a better fire fighting if the failure of the apparatus did not occur.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“This mechanical problem, is it as a result of this particular truck being very dated; very old?”

 

Benisford Matura

“We have an ageing fleet of trucks and yes, mechanical problems will occur and it is something unforeseen.”

 

And now that he has lost everything and nothing was insured, Lamb must rebuild the house that he spent his life building.Everyone lost everything – left with only the clothes on their backs. Lamb believed it was caused by a faulty extension cord.

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, no one managed to save anything?”

 

Reynold Lamb

“Nothing at all. Everything burn. I had a tennis in the warehouse and I had to give mi son fi mek he use; I had a pants and I had to give mi next son to use. Everything else gone. This dah weh I have on right yah today day.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Mister Lamb what could have caused this fire; do you know?”

 

Reynold Lamb

“I thought it was just an electrical cord.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Cord as in extension cord?”

 

Reynold Lamb

“Yes. Extension cord.”

 

And the Fire Service confirmed that it was an electrical fire only that it was caused by an overload due to an illegal connection. Matura says that house didn’t have a direct source of electricity – a wire connected to the neighbour’s house was what was supplying Lamb’s house with electricity.

 

Benisford Matura

“Our investigators had determined that this fire was due to an electrical short. There was no power from B.E.L. to the structure and they had another means of power and at some point there was a form of overload and that is what started this fire.”

 

Lamb made an appeal and called on G.O.B. to provide the resources for the national fire service.

 

Reynold Lamb

“If the people deh have the right thing thing fi tek care of the work weh deh di pay dem fi do, then they can exercise their duties. But, please, it could happen to somebody else. Whosever di hear me in higher places, please do something fi the fire service because the fire service need help.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

Lamb says his immediate need is for a roof over his head. You can reach him at 620-3690.

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