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Jan 30, 2001

Fire destroys four Bz. City homes

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It had all the ingredients of a disaster of epic proportions: dry weather, strong breezes and old wooden buildings in a congested part of town. But instead of a citywide inferno, today’s fire on Belize City’s south side was contained to four houses. Ann-Marie Williams was on the spot.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

A mid-morning fire in Belize City has left more than twenty-five people homeless and five trying to salvage the pieces of their partially burnt home. According to Fire Chief Henry Baizar, and iron left abandoned on a bed was responsible for the fire.

The fire started at the lower flat of number forty-five Dean Street, home of Kenecia Velasquez, Andrea Gordon, Tanya and their three children, however, it did not end there. The towering inferno enveloped two other houses, one at the Corner Dean and Tigris Streets, owned by contractor Christopher Burgess. Neither Burgess, his wife, or children were at home at the time.

Christopher Burgess, Fire Victim

“I was buying some materials to prepare to work, and by the time I put down the materials and give the workmen them to work, some guys told me that they heard the pump and that it was at the Corner of Dean and Tigris that a house was catching fire. I saw said goddamn, it’s my F*** house, so what I did, was run from there straight here and when I reach, my house was finished.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“You saved nothing?”

Christopher Burgess

“Absolutely nothing was saved. Nothing.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“It was already burnt, or was it under smoke? What was the condition of the house when you came?”

Christopher Burgess

“When I got here, the house was finished. My house is completely finished. I lose everything. This is the only thing I have on body right now, everything is lost. I lost two TVs, my fan, radio, refrigerator. My important papers are gone, my American passport is burnt too. I have nothing.”

His younger brother, who lived above him in the same house was at the KHMH working when he heard the news. A distraught Kent Burgess rushed home only to see his possession turned to ashes.

It is not clear if Lisa Jeffries and eight other people who occupied the third house were at home to save anything.

One thing is certain, however, neighbours were not taking any chances. The streets were converted into a make shift storeroom as residents hurriedly moved their precious belongings. Sick relatives also had to be moved from the path of the blaze.

Henry Baizar, Fire Chief

“We concentrate the fire not to allow it to cross the street because if it did, we would have had more problems. Eventually, the fire burned and caught the one behind, number forty-five, and all of a sudden, that went up in flames, but we couldn’t do anything to save that one.”

Ann-Marie Williams

“I noticed it started to cross street?”

Henry Baizar

“It started across the street, so we concentrated in not allowing the fire to spread that way.”

And because of the swift efforts of the firefighters, Arthur Gladden’s residence across the street received only partial damage. Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

At least two of the three homes destroyed were uninsured.

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