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Sep 4, 2020

Funeral Home Goes Up in Flames

A raging fire broke after midnight on Freetown Road, Belize City. Smoke billowed across the area as the flames quickly consumed a funeral parlor as well as house, both located in the same yard. The fire erupted in the bedroom of the house spreading to Sanjay Pilgrim Caskets and Wreaths Shop destroying both. The fire department has not yet been able to ascertain the cause of the blaze but it is ruling out electrical faults.  Because the owner of the properties is in custody, he is yet to he questioned. Here is Hipolito Novelo with a report.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

The fire erupted sometime after one o’clock in the morning. A 911 called led fire-fighters to twenty-nine Freetown Road in Belize City.

 

Kenneth Mortis

Kenneth Mortis, Station Supervisor, National Fire Service

“This morning as approximately one-twenty-six a.m. we received a call of a structural fire in progress on Freetown Road, to be exact corner of Freetown and Kelly Street. The fire department proceeded to the location and upon arrival we observed the remains of a collapsed wooden structure that was fully engulfed.”

 

The inferno was consuming Sanjay Pilgrim Caskets and Wreaths Shop, as thick black smoke drifted down Freetown, into people’s home.

 

Kenneth Mortis

“The wind direction was a major contributing factor to the smoke. Actually it had us shifting our fire fighting tactics from east to west and north to south but that is just dealing with the nature of the elements. It is unfortunate cause that the close neighbor sustained quite a large amount of smoke damage.”

 

Upon arrival, fire-fighters sprung into the action, containing the fire from spreading to other buildings. But for the building at twenty-nine Freetown Road, it was too late. The inferno was huge and powerful. It had consumed all the contents of the business and the house in the yard in a matter of minutes. Zincs were left twisted and this charred structure and this charred children’s coffin are all that are left as a reminder of the fire’s devastation.

 

Kenneth Mortis

“We immediately commenced fire fighting operations. Of course we were hampered a bit by the electrical wiring that was a bit hazardous to my team in trying to extinguish this blaze. However B.E.L. made themselves available to our assistance and they neutralized the area and we were able to fully extinguish this fire before any further structure could have been engulfed by the inferno.”

 

Fortunately there was no one inside the house or business when the fire erupted. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined. However, investigators can rule out electrical and accident.

 

Kenneth Mortis

“While we cannot one hundred percent determine the cause there are factors we can rule out, namely electrical. We can definitely rule out any form of negligence in the sense of an abandoned stove or a lit candle seeing that no one was at home long before the fire even started. There are speculations out there that the fire may have resulted as a cause of arson or in the terms of the fire department, incendiary fire. If that is the case we have not found or located anything to support such if the perpetrators may have used a sort of flammable liquid to aid in lighting this building.”

 

But what if that was the case. Who targeted Pilgrim and why? Was the fire meant to be a threatening message? After all, the fire started at the bedroom in the house behind the funeral parlor. But the fire department’s investigation is at a standstill because Pilgrim is in police custody.

 

Kenneth Mortis

“We could not get a hold of him to have a one and one with Mister Pilgrim as we learnt from the police department he was detained pending other criminal matters. We are also learned that Mister Pilgrim’s establishment housed an apparent wooden structure which is located directly adjacent to the front of the establishment. Investigation can confirm that the fire started from the rear of that dwelling structure where the bedroom was located. The fire in turn consumed that particle dwelling and later on destroyed the office that housed the Pilgrim funeral parlor.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


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