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Jun 12, 2018

Mother, Kids, Niece Trapped in Deadliest House Fire in a Decade

The San Pedro community has been left devastated by one of the most ferocious fires in the island and elsewhere in the country. The blaze erupted at about two-forty-five this morning at a two storey house in the Escalante subdivision.  The wooden upper flat of the house was completed gutted. Trapped inside was a family of four including a mother, her two school-aged children and the fourth person was her sixteen-year-old niece.  Her husband and a sixteen-year-old son escaped by jumping through a window.  Others who lived in two apartments in the concrete lower flat managed to get out unhurt.  The blaze swept through the house quickly and spread to two nearby buildings, but was contained.  This morning, the police went through the charred wreckage and pulled out the bodies of the family of four.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

The deadliest fire in over a decade occurred around two forty five this morning in San Pedro. Four persons perished inside the blaze. Clara Bacab, two of her children fourteen-year-old Allan Nunez and six-year-old Mia Nunez as well as her niece, sixteen-year-old Shirley Bacab were all trapped inside the upper flat of a wooden and concrete house in the Escalante subdivision of the island.  News Five understands that Shirley had just recently relocated to the island and has been living with the family for about a month. Residents converged in the area where the unthinkable happened and after eleven this morning, witnessed as the four remains, placed in body bags, were removed from the rubble and whisked away in the rear of the police mobile.  The Police say they were informed of the inferno thirty minutes later and phoned in to the fire service personnel on the island.


Henry Jemott

Supt. Henry Jemott, O.C., San Pedro Police

“Around 3:15 thereabout, the police were called to the area of Escalante in San Pedro Town. We received information of a house fire. Upon police making checks in the area, they noticed one building engulfed in fire and another almost engulfed as well. Police then called the fire department and they proceeded to the area of Escalante where they started to operate to extinguish the fire in the area.”


Orin Smith

Orin Smith, Station Manager, National Fire Service

“At approximately 3:30 a.m., the San Pedro Branch of the National Fire Service had received and responded to reports of a structural fire in the Escalante subdivision area of San Pedro Town. We had two units dispatched to that area. On arrival on scene, found were two structures engulfed in flames. During the overhaul phase of the operation, we discovered four bodies that were said to be missing earlier.”


Supt. Henry Jemott

“Three buildings had fire damages; we know that the main building and another house that was beside was totally engulfed in flames, everything was destroyed. Some of the persons managed to escape unhurt; we have two persons who have burnt injuries and other injuries and four persons lost their lives here today.”


Bacab’s husband, David Nunez and their sixteen-year-old son, Samir Nunez narrowly escaped the deadly fire, but suffered various degree burns and smoke inhalation. They were airlifted to the K.H.M.H.


Supt. Henry Jemott

“One the doctor has classified his injuries as wounding and one has third degree burns and is critical. Both persons have been flown out to Belize City and are at K.H.M.H. hospital.”



“Sir when you guys got here, there was no opportunity to try and get out the remaining people?”


Supt. Henry Jemott

“Some persons were already evacuated from the lower flat of the building and the neighboring building. As you can see, the main structure that was the one that people couldn’t get out because the steps were burnt; it had wooden steps.”


Luigi Chable, his wife and their two children lived in one of the two apartments in the lower flat of the structure for the past two years; two others lived across from them. While all six managed to escape unhurt, they lost everything in the inferno.


Luigi Chable

Luigi Chable, Tenant

“I left at two in the morning and forty-five minutes after, my wife gave me a call that the house on the top is on fire. So I left work and when I reached to the house, the top was already burnt. Only my wife and the other guys that rent beside us were the ones that could come out of the apartment and the bigger son of the lady and her husband. The other rest stayed in the house, didn’t manage to come out. Like four of them got trapped and unfortunately they died inside.”


An adjacent wooden house occupied by a mute couple was also gutted by the blaze. That house was dangerously close to the home of Antonia Guerrero, who says that she was awaken by the crackling sound coming from outside her house.


Voice of: Antonia Guerrero, Neighbor

“I get to hear like popcorn and I just get up and I started to smell smoke and my baby says, “Tia, Tia what is this? Something is happening.” And when I open the window, I just see everything was orange. And I see orange and I start to smell smoke. And I told her not to move and I just pack up my passport and fi she passport and I come out. And I only see the big house, Mister David house ina fire. So I tell her stay here and no move—because I bring the baby way yah—and I gone back because my nephew is mute and his wife is the same. So when I reach by the step I see the door open and they come out. He mi want go back and I tell him no, no, no.”


Soon after, a bucket brigade got into action, using water from a nearby well to prevent other structures from catching fire.


There is speculation on what could have caused the fire. Residents on the ground today say that the blaze may have started from a golf cart that was left charging overnight. Tenant Luigi Chable does not believe that the golf cart started the fire and up to late this evening, firefighters were processing the scene to determine the official cause.


Luigi Chable

“They say that there was a spark on their golf cart because the golf carts are electric so they say there was a spark. Other people and saying that there were gunshots. I can’t really know, but what I get to know from my wife is that when she opened the door from the living room, the roof top was on fire. So she said all the verandah was on fire and the golf carts were not burnt. But when I arrived like three, three-fifteen in the morning, the golf cart was still intact, they were not burnt.”


Orin Smith

“Some are saying that a golf cart was involved. Of course I cannot confirm or deny that; we are still awaiting the outcome of the actual investigation.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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1 Response for “Mother, Kids, Niece Trapped in Deadliest House Fire in a Decade”

  1. Concerned citizen says:

    Dear Belize,

    This is such a tragedy, my heart goes out to the families. I just keep wondering… How much more life needs to be lost before the government does something REAL! monies to replace “stolen” cars, replacement cars for the ministries that are used for reckless joyriding especially after hours is wasteful, trips, and unnecessary monies for sheds for sports, invest in pump trucks. Invest in an offshore pump station that can be activated with sea water! It doesn’t cost a million dollars, just bureaucracy on behalf of the existing ministers, excuses and such. People of Belize, it is a time to take a stand, not against any political party ( they are not to blame)… We are!!! We need to wake up!!! Take a stand!! Do it collaboratively San Pedro!!! How can an island run out of water? What’s the excuse?!?

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