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Jun 26, 2019

A Blaze in the Capital Wipes Out Fashion & More

A fire on Tuesday evening gutted a store at a shopping complex in Belmopan. The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but a few days ago, electrical issues plagued the building. The store manager says it all started in one of the units on the ground floor. The firemen battled the raging flames from spreading, but got into problems when water ran out. Residents sprang into action with a bucket brigade to help contain the blaze. News Five’s Andrea Polanco tells us more in the following story.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

A fire broke out on the ground floor of this business complex on Mountain View Boulevard in Belmopan on Tuesday evening and it completely destroyed two units which housed Fashion and More store. The manager of the property, Blanca Flowers, was sitting outside around six-forty when she saw flames on the bottom floor of the building. She went to investigate and there she found fire raging inside one of her tenants shop.

 

Blanca Flowers

Blanca Flowers, Building Manager

“I saw the smoke coming out between the two buildings of William Tam and our one. I said, ‘Hijo, look at that, deh the burn up your old car.’ And he said no it is not that let’s go check and when we got there he said it is Melanie’s back door. We run to try and break the lock and we couldn’t do it. He went to get water and I went to cut out the power.”

 

Flowers says the goal was to keep the fire contained in that one store so that it didn’t spread to other businesses in the complex and nearby buildings. The fire, according to Flowers, started in the back room of Fashion and More and thousands of dollars went up in flames.

 

Blanca Flowers

“My goal was to keep the back room and not the rest to the front or the side. Yes the fire started in the back, in the back in the store room.  She lose a good amount of money. I am so sorry about that.”

 

Reporter

“Do you know if any of her stuff was insured and if she could get it back?”

 

Blanca Flowers

“I hope so.”

 

Flowers says the fire-fighters arrived on the scene around twenty minutes or so after they were alerted. By that time, residents in the area had rushed to help. She says that community support may have prevented an even bigger tragedy because the fire truck experienced some issues on the scene.

 

Blanca Flowers

“But then the water finished. It is a shame for the fire department to have the truck maybe quarter because it didn’t take ten minutes for the water to finish.”

 

Reporter

“So, the fire truck had to leave?”

 

Blanca Flowers

“They didn’t know what to do. It was a shame because they were just sitting down and we were just getting water in buckets and we never stopped.”

 

Another business owner on the top floor of the complex left from Benque Viejo to secure his property.  He says that when he arrived the fire truck was leaving the scene to find water – luckily, he and others started a bucket brigade to try and keep the fire from spreading until the truck returned some thirty minutes later.

 

Jeffrey

Jeffrey, Businessman/Responder

“As I pulled in, the fire truck was leaving at the same time because I had to get out of the way for the fire truck to pass. So, when I got here they were already starting a bucket brigade because there was no water. I checked my shop and saw the smoke and just locked it up because there was nothing I could do. I came back to help and kept throwing buckets but there was a water truck full with water but they couldn’t get the pump to work.  So, they were fumbling with the water truck and couldn’t get to work. So, we continued with the bucket brigade trying to open entrances to this unit just to keep it from spreading.   I can guarantee you it took more than thirty five minutes for the fire truck to come back and by that time – what started to happen in the building is that some of the ceilings started to fall in but all the products in the shop were done and so we tried to stop the fire from getting upstairs.”

 

Residents in the area say the fire raged on for almost two hours before it was contained. While some reported that department failed on Tuesday evening – they say that the problem appeared to be the equipment. They said that fire-fighters did the best they could with what was available – but the community must be commended for stepping up.  Today the business owners appealed for the country’s capital city fire department to be equipped with more than one fire truck.

 

Jeffrey

“The fire personnel who were out here gave it their all. They went in there without any regards for themselves. They did amazing considering what they had to work with. I was told that is the only single truck that Belmopan has; one single fire engine. So the crew from Spanish Lookout and San Ignacio came but that was just to mop out because it really did nothing to save the lady property.”

 

Blanca Flowers

“As a business people we abandoned and mien we pay enough taxes. We pay every month our taxes; GST; income tax; social security. We need help to have a proper fire department. We need more fire trucks. Come on, we are in the city. It is a shame.”

 

At this time the fire department is still investigating the blaze. Manager Blanca Flowers says she doesn’t know what caused the fire but some days before the building experienced some electrical problems. She says that was fixed just a couple days ago.

 

Blanca Flowers

“We had a slight lee problem but we correct. Just Saturday we get the wires and on Sunday and Monday we worked on it. And it was perfect. In the morning I come and asked if everything was ok and they said yes everything is ok.”

 

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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