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Jan 25, 2016

Family Loses Everything after Home is Set on Fire

A single mother and her five children lost everything when a fire gutted their house in Scotland Halfmoon, Belize District. As they try to pick up the pieces to restore normalcy to their lives, police confirm it is a case of arson, but no one will be charged. And that’s because the fire at the house of Denise Lodge was set early on Saturday night by a mentally challenged person from the village. The family wasn’t at home, but two officers were injured when they attempted to apprehend the arsonist. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

On Saturday night an elevated wooden structure was gutted by blaze in Scotland Halfmoon in the Belize River Valley area. The structure was home to thirty-three year Denise Lodge and her five school-aged children; the eldest being fourteen years old. Everything was destroyed including household items, clothing as well as the children’s uniforms and books. Lodge says she had just left her two-bedroom house and five minutes later, on her return, the place they called home was up engulfed in flames.


Denise Lodge

Denise Lodge, Fire Victim

“I left out of my house like six-thirty. I pass my house, gone dah my sister-in-law like six-forty and I take five minutes from my next sister-in-law fu come back and by the time I come back dah because my house deh pan fire. And I know I never left on no candle and mi stove never left on because I neva have butane and I noh have electricity…so. When I come back, ih deh pan fire and I couldn’t do nothing about it because the fire just blow.”


Today, fire officials were back in the village to process the scene as they prepared a final report on the case of arson. We say arson because police say that the culprit was detained hours after the firefighters extinguished the blaze. Several officers were injured in the process.


Juanito Cocom

Inspector Juanito Cocom, O.C., Ladyville Police
“When police responded and tried to apprehend John Dawson who is a mental patient, a twenty-one year old Belizean laborer of Scotland Halfmoon Village. During his apprehension, two police officers were injured. One received abrasions to her face…it’s a female police officer and the other received a cut wound to the left eyelash.”


John Dawson is a twenty-one year old person who has been certified to be living with a mental disability. But according to Denise and her brother, Derrick, Dawson threatened to set the house on fire, but no one took him serious because of his mental condition.


Derrick Lodge

Derrick Lodge, Brother of Fire Victim

“The first incident with this young bwai…there is a bally who has a farm back here and ih son mi di come out in the SUV and according to ih son and mi baby mother and mi sister, di bwai whap the truck with the machete and ih put wah big long scrape on the truck. When that happened, the lee bwai turn back and gone for his pa and the pa supposed to gone dah the mother, tell dehn weh happen and then police come and he gone tell dehn in front of the lee bwai….ih tell them that my baby mother and my sister see when he whap the truck. So when the lee bwai hear that; ih say ih wah burn down the two of dehn house. But nobody took him serious. Dehn never tek ahn like serious and thing. But ih end up that ih gone out dah the road, meet wah young man weh do barbecue every week and borrow wah lighter saying that he wants to light a cigarette. But he never get back the lighter and next thing yo know, the house deh pan fire.”


Denise Lodge

“I understand that dah wah young bwai set it on fire and after he done too, he brag about it that he set it on fire. Dehn claim that he crazy, but I noh sure about that because if he could brag about something weh ih do, I noh think ih crazy. Ih play crazy.”


But the laws are specific, says Regional Commander Edward Broaster, when it involves incidents where mentally disabled persons are the perpetrators.


Edward Broaster

Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster, Regional Commander, Rural Eastern Division

“He will not be charged; he is certified mentally insane.”



“Sir even for the injuries he inflicted to the police officers as well?”


Sr. Supt. Edward Broaster

“The law is specific when it comes to mentally challenged individuals. When these individuals are not on their medications, then they get violent and aggressive. We have spoke to the family and reiterate to them that they should ensure that he gets his medication on time otherwise he might end up hurting them and other villagers in the village. The doctor as well mentioned that he should get his medication on time.”


Villagers, says the Lodge family, have been concerned about the safety of their children in Scotland Halfmoon.


Derrick Lodge

“The man got ih time when ih deh yah di run bout and make a lot of crazy noise and dah somebody weh yon oh know ih could do something out of the blues any minute. I neva know ih mi wah could get so serious; ih have incidents weh ih do already, but nothing serious like this. With dehn lot of pikney always on the road; dah wah threat; the parents dehn shoulda make sure the man get ih injection to time. But the mother look like ih can’t handle ahn and look like none ah dehn can’t handle ahn because when ih get outta order, ih get ih machete and look fi chop everybody. Dah something weh the parents dehn really have to look into. If dehn can’t take care of him, then put ahn dah wah institution weh could take care of ahn.”


Notwithstanding the fact that Dawson will not be charged, the family is without a roof over their heads. Today, Derrick was trying to make room for Denise and her five children to live temporarily.


Derrick Lodge

“Ih mess dehn up because my sister has so much lee young pikney and thing. So dah me have to take the lee burden and try help dehn out till dehn could get somewhere up.”


Denise Lodge

“I lost everything; I never save nothing. All my babies’ documents, my documents, school books, everything. All mi clothes everything gone down like nothing. Dah like yo never got it; everything gone to lost.”


The house nor its contents were insured and the value was about thirty thousand dollars. Duane Moody for News Five.


Anyone who would like to assist can contact Denise Lodge at 630-2183.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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