Buildings on John McAfee’s compound burn to ground
John McAfee – now there’s a name you probably never wanted to hear again…but you will, because early this afternoon two large wooden houses on his gated compound in Carmelita in the Orange Walk district went up in flames. Reports are that the blaze was fast and furious, and by the time the Fire Department responded there was nothing they could do to save the structures or anything inside. The large compound is located at the foot of the toll bridge overlooking the river, and this afternoon Mike Rudon was there and has the story.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
The charred skeletons of two large wooden houses joined by a verandah are all that is left of spacious main home once occupied by eccentric millionaire John McAfee, who departed Belize in less than favourable circumstances after he was sought for questioning in a murder on San Pedro.
And across the way are the remains of a palapa hut, which caught fire after cinders from the thatched roofs of those homes struck it.
The compound was deserted, except for Natalie Wade, who lived in this home at the front of the compound. She wasn’t home when it happened, but received a call from a friend who passed at a little after one and saw the fire. She told us off camera what she saw when she got to the scene.
“The two house mi doen deh pan fire, after that the palapa ketch. Ih almost mi done burn. I just run upstairs and try get what I coulda mi get out and just watch the fire making sure it noh burn my stuff them.”
“The fire jump straight from the house to the palapa?”
Voice of: Natalie Wade
“From the house straight to the palapa; the leaves weh mi di fly off fly to the palapa and soh ih ketch too.”
Noel Codd is the caretaker of the property, and was called by Natalie Wade, and that’s when he called the Fire Department and rushed to the scene. But by then it was too late.
Noel Codd, Caretaker
“After one Natalie was at work, but they called her and told her that the place was on fire. So I call straight dah fire station. And the guys responded; right away they call the person in charge called someone else and they come up. But by that time deh, I done gone pick up two young lady weh di work with we, and they said well the thatch engulf now and I rush and open the gate. But by the time we rush, it mi done ketch the thatch and it was like gas line just like voop quickly.”
“What all was inside the house; they had two sizeable houses?”
“Yes ih mi fully furnished. Refrigerator, stove, beds, Jacuzzi; fully furnished lockers; everything.”
According to Codd, the timing couldn’t be worse, as the property was for sale and prospective buyers had indicated that they would sign the contract in a week. And of course, it seems that McAfee’s curse is alive and well, even in his absence.
“When I called Mister McAfee when it was happening, he was the one who had to cool me done instead of me saying it’s gonna be good. He said we are going to get through it. But it’s a loss mien…like really bad luck. We had a contract. I mean the property would have been sold; I would make, you would make and we would have moved on instead of all of this. The man would have gotten back something because the price it was selling wasn’t the real value of the property. He just wanted to get rid of this property because he is not welcomed in Belize anymore. I called him again and he is not happy about it; lost a lot of money here. He is not even here and he is losing stuff. I still can’t believe this happened. I am at a loss for words. Can’t believe this thing happen when I just mi deh pan the property yesterday with the guys.”
Preliminary indications are that the fire started here, in this open area next to McAfee’s compound, where posts planted in the ground were still smoldering. But of course, the fact that the compound belongs to John McAfee always leaves room for speculation that it was arson.
“If it’s bushfire or dehn set it, I’m not sure because they always have bushfire, but it is the first time it happen in this area—well for a long time we neva hear bout arson. I guess over the weekend they had an arson in Carmelita Village, a small little house, but it’s just. I don’t know what to say, what to think about it because it happened so quickly. If it was a bushfire, across the street or across the road, they had bushfire and stuff—big fir—and nothing. But this one yah was like… I don’t know. It makes you wonder.”
The total loss, including the houses, the palapa hut and all the items inside, have been estimated in the region of more than half a million Belize dollars. Mike Rudon for News Five.
Codd told us today that none of the buildings which burned down were insured, so it is a total loss.