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Jul 16, 2018

Fire in the ‘Co-op’

A fire destroyed a part of the storage room at the Northern Fisherman Co-operative in Belize City over the weekend. The early morning fire was quickly contained from spreading to the rest of the building. At this time, investigators are not sure what exactly caused the blaze. They say that the area where the fire started shows no evidence of an accelerant and they have already ruled out electrical. News Five’s Andrea Polanco tells us more about the Saturday morning fire that destroyed packing boxes in the upper flat of the co-operative.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Just after seven on Saturday morning – smoke was seen coming out of the upper flat of the Northern Fishermen Cooperative on the corner of Victoria and North Front Streets.  Fire-fighters were called out to the scene around seven-thirty – and two units were dispatched to put out the fire.


Benisford Matura

Benisford Matura, Deputy Fire Chief, National Fire Service

“We discovered the first floor, the north eastern section, had thick, black smoke evolving from the roof area. We got into operation. We did a forcible entry and got into operation and eventually extinguished the fire.  In our fire fighting techniques we could not open other windows and doors because it would have brought in oxygen to the fire and make it more extreme. So, what we had to do was to cut a ventilation hole in the roof to vent out all the hot gasses and that is how we end up have total extinguishment.”


When the smoke had cleared and the flames were out, fire fighters discovered that the fire destroyed an area of about twenty by ten inside the storage room. Inside this store room is where carton boxes are kept that are used to package products for exportation.  According to the co-op, empty cardboard lobster boxes were destroyed, as well as portion of the roof – but losses have not been estimated as yet. An official at the co-op said that they don’t know what caused the fire but that no one should have been in the building that day. But while Matura says that they are yet to determine what started the fire, they have ruled out an electrical cause and their investigation shows that the fire originated in an area where there is no known source for fire ignition.


Benisford Matura

“An investigation was done as to the cause of the fire or the origin. The electrical was ruled out, as everything in the area was intact. The area where the fire started there was no sign of an ignition source. However, the fire started between a stack of empty boxes. So, our investigators are still trying to determine what caused the fire. We are presently leaning towards that it is some sort of an incendiary fire. But the investigation is still on.”



“The type of material that was in there – is there any possibility that it may have combust spontaneously as a result of the amount of heat that we have been having?”


Benisford Matura

“That could be an avenue but for that to occur you’d have to have extensive heat and remember this was early in the morning.”


While the property has surveillance cameras – those have not proven helpful to fire investigators. And there is no report of a breach at the cooperative.


Benisford Matura

“The surveillance footage doesn’t cover the exact area where we assumed the fire started, so the cameras cannot help us in that situation because it doesn’t cover that area.”



“The door to the storage area – was it locked? We understand since no one was there at the time it should have been locked. Was it lock when you guys arrived?”


Benisford Matura

“Yes it was locked because we had to make our way up to the outside step and make entry from that section.”


Andrea Polanco

“Did you observe if any other parts of the building were breached; any windows or anything seemed out of order?”


Benisford Matura

“No. None of that was – we didn’t notice if anywhere else was breached.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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