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Aug 28, 2013

Massive Fire Destroys Ramon’s Village Resort in San Pedro

Ramon’s Village Resort is a landmark in the prime tourism destination of San Pedro, but a huge fire on Tuesday night swept through the iconic resort destroying almost fifty percent of the cabanas. It is one of the most destructive fires on the island and millions of dollars went up in smoke in a matter of minutes, as the fire department struggled to put out the inferno. The entire island was plunged into darkness but the community quickly mobilized to assist in the efforts. This morning, there were still embers of the fire, as investigations begin to determine its origins. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Ramon’s Village Resort, established in San Pedro in 1987, as one of the first hotels to attract overnight tourism to the island of Ambergris Caye, was reduced to rubble during a massive fire on Tuesday night.  The property, a collection of seventy Tahitian-styled cottages accentuated with Mayan motifs, went up in flames shortly after eight o’clock.  Einer Gomez, an employee for over twenty years, sounded the alarm.

 

Einer Gomez, Hotel Manager, Ramon’s Village Resort

Einer Gomez

“I was at the end of the dock walking towards the end of the property when I saw what looked like smoke and sparks and I hurried to the area.  While going towards the area, at first I thought it was across the street but I called the front desk and I asked them to have the security run by that area.  We basically got there together and [in] one of the huts there were flames coming out of the roof.”

 

The conflagration, as a result of the wind, spread quickly across the thatch and pimenta construction.  Fortunately, most of the guests were having dinner at a separate location on the compound when the alarm was raised.  Simone Micheletti, who is visiting with his girlfriend and another couple from Italy, was scheduled to depart for his home country earlier that day but decided to stay an extra night.

 

Simone Micheletti, Guest, Ramon’s Village Resort

Simone Micheletti

“We were going to the restaurant over there, to Victoria [House] Restaurant.  We arrived there and they told us that something was going on here at Ramon’s so we quickly ran back.  We arrived here and the fire was everywhere.  After thirty seconds the fire was every, everywhere.”

 

Of the total number of rooms, thirty-two were eviscerated in the blazing fire.

 

Orin Smith, Lead Investigator, National Fire Service

Orin Smith

“We’re an island surrounded by water but the access to the waterfront isn’t that easy.  That’s what transpired.  The fire originated in Cabana Fifteen which was occupied by two international individuals.  The villa is insured with an international insurance body, the name of the insurance company I don’t have at this time.”

 

In the wake of inferno, officials from the Central Building Authority were on hand to assess the damages, as well as to determine what may have been its potential source.  Phillip Waight is the sitting chairman.

 

Phillip Waight

Phillip Waight, Chairman, Central Building Authority

“As part of our mandate we are supposed to ensure the safety of buildings and the public.  We want to know what actually started the fire, how it originated and what it affected in the neighborhood and what kind of structural damages happened and how could it have been prevented.  Were they following the proper codes?  Things like proper fire alarms and [other things that] should have been in place.  There are laws like the BTB Act that requires a lot of intensive protection and the CBA laws that require inspection of the building annually.  Now we want to ensure that these things were adhered to and we figure that if these things were adhered to [then] prevention would have minimized what occurred here.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“It is the morning after what residents of San Pedro are referring to as arguably the costliest fire in the island’s history.  Employees and guests of Ramon’s Village are rummaging through what is left of last night’s fire.  Everything on the property has been decimated.”

 

Einer Gomez

“I can tell you that twenty-nine rooms, mostly on the south side of the property were completely destroyed by the fire and our main area which houses the gift shop, the restaurant, the bar and the front desk and the lobby.”

 

Ramon’s Village, aptly named after its famous host Ramon Nunez, is owned by Richard Hedrick at an estimated value of eight million U.S. dollars.  In the aftermath of the disaster Micheletti is combing through the debris for any remaining possessions.  Piled in a heap nearby are pieces of china and other porcelain tableware.

 

Simone Micheletti

“We found some stuff at least, room keys and keys for another one of the cars.  It was there.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“How much did you lose more or less in this fire?”

 

Simone Micheletti

“Fortunately, I didn’t lose [anything].  We were two couples.  The other friend of mine lost, I don’t know, camera, two cameras, Ipads, telephone, another telephone, apart from [travel documents.]”

 

Isani Cayetano

“I understand that you guys are visiting from Italy and you are spending a few days here.  Can you talk to me about that?”

 

Simone Micheletti

“We were supposed to come back yesterday and we said let’s stay one more day, we’re gonna go to the Blue Hole for diving.  We spend one night more and this morning we were supposed to leave but, I mean we couldn’t.”

 

To accommodate guests whose travel documents were lost as a result of the fire, the Belize Tourism Board has offered its assistance in liaising with the respective embassies in order to expedite their departure.

 

Einer Gomez

“I have to say that the Belize Tourism Board has done a tremendous job in facilitating with our guests primarily.  We, from last night we had an account of where are guests were displaced and where they were and what hotels they were in.  So we were aware of every hotel guest.  From last night I knew that the BTB was going to come in and open shop at their office since early in the morning and they have been very, very instrumental and I can’t even begin to thank them.”

 

News Five understands that Richard Hedrick will be flying into the country tomorrow to meet with the hotel’s staff to discuss the future of their employment and subsequent rebuilding efforts.

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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3 Responses for “Massive Fire Destroys Ramon’s Village Resort in San Pedro”

  1. Eye in the Sky says:

    Insureburn ? Condos next? Only time will tell.

  2. The Killer says:

    “We’re an island surrounded by water”
    Mr. Orin Smith is a very very very very smart man. The investigation should end very quickly.

  3. Concern Canuck says:

    This might of been a harbinger (God’s warning) of judgement with this Gay Policy being considered in law. It would be the downfall of Belize if it did. Remember Sodom? It burned too.

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