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Mar 4, 2013

Arson cause of fire that burnt down building

Police are treating an early morning fire in downtown Belize City as a case of arson. The fire started from the lower flat of a building which was unoccupied and without electricity so authorities believe the building was deliberately set ablaze. Two other buildings were damaged, but luckily no one was hurt. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

A blaze at the corner of Bishop and West Street woke up residents early Sunday morning. The fire service responded within minutes.

 

Orin Smith, Training Officer, National Fire Service

Orin Smith

“That call came in at four-fifty a.m. By four-fifty-one both units had left their station in response to the structural fire. We arrived on scene five minutes after we had received the call. On arrival on scene, we found the two storey wooden structure completely engulfed by fire. We got into operation first to contain the fire and then focused on extinguishment after. Approximately eight minutes after we arrived on scene the structure had collapsed. We had a structure across from the original fire was on the corner of Bishop Street, but on the next corner opposite that, we had a structure that had the fascia already burring and a wooden door in the center of the wall burning and we focused on getting that extinguished. The neighbor’s house, at 47 West Street, was also on fire on the east of the building. We had that extinguished and then we focused there on extinguishment.”

 

Alicia Montejo

Alicia Montejo, Witness

“Fire, fire is outside. And so I ran out with the baby. I was so frightened, I ran out in my underwear. When we came out, the whole center of the house was already on fire flaming up. We could not breathe inside the house; smoked out. My mom and I and the babies ran outside and that was the end of it. We didn’t have any time to save anything in our house because the whole house burn. My brother woke up because the dogs were barking and he could not sleep. And when he came outside, he noticed that the house next door was on fire.”

 

Charles Herrera, Tenant

Charles Herrera

“I saw smoke coming from under the door and when I opened the door I noticed that the house was on fire. So what I did was open two of the window—one was a glass window and the other a board window—and we escaped through the board window from upstairs because the staircase was already on fire and there was a lot of smoke so we couldn’t go through that. Everything went up. No one was injured just scrapes.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“In terms of your losses, was there anything irreplaceable that went up?”

 

Charles Herrera

“Yeah there were a lot of sentimental things that I had for a long time with me—clothes, valuables; everything just went. I didn’t have any time to save anything.”

 

The building’s owner says it was insured.

 

Hiram Baptist

Hiram Baptist, Building Owner

“Mr. Charles; he was the only one that had occupied the house or a room upstairs of the house. I had a tenant recently evicted couple weeks before.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“So the building is yours. You are renting it out, but did you have it insured?”

 

Charles Herrera

“Yes I had to have it insured.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Do you know anybody who would want to do such a thing?”

 

Charles Herrera

“Actually I have a pretty good idea. I had threats before, but lef that up to the police. I already made a report to the CIB. I had previous reports before, so I’ll just let the law handle it nuh.”

 

The investigators believe arson is the cause of the fire.

 

Orin Smith

“The owner of the building, Hiram, Baptist, reported that the lower flat was unoccupied for approximately two weeks; the tenant had left the building and the electrical current was also cut off. So the lower flat had no current. The investigation revealed that the lower flat also had no furnishings whatsoever. There were no use of candles, no cooking, no nothing; no one had occupied that section of the building, [but] that is where the fire had originated from—from the center area of the lower flat.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Are you then investigating this fire as a potential arson?”

 

Orin Smith

“There is a possibility that that is where this investigation may lead.”

 

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

 

If anyone would like to assist Charles Herrera in replacing some of his items, you can reach him at 664-9327.

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