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Dec 31, 1999

Fire destroys at least three southside buildings

Up until around five o’clock this evening we here at News Five were preparing to usher in the year two thousand with a shorthanded newscast followed by a long night of reveling. Events intervened, however, and I’ve just returned from the scene of a tragic fire. The blaze, which started in a two storey wooden house at the corner of West Street and Cemetery Road, quickly spread and it is believed that at least two more buildings were destroyed. Here are the sights and sounds.

Q: “Laverne tell us exactly what you saw because you live right in the neighborhood where the fire started.”

Area Resident #1

“I was in the shop so I didn’t really see how it started but when I came outside somebody mentioned that there was smoke and when I came outside I just saw thick smoke and right after that just burst into some serious flames. The house was already on fire when I came outside. It was so quick; it happened really quickly.”

Q: “Who lived in the house and do you know if anyone was at home at the time?”

Area Resident #1

“I am sure that people were home at the time because people are always there, right. I don’t know if there were really working in the house but I am sure that there were people standing, people in the house.”

Q: “Excuse me you said that you had to rescue a Chinese?”

Area Resident #2

“A Chinese lady and little boy were in there, I bring him out of the Chinese shop and tell him get out, take out your mother. I didn’t take out the mother, the policemen took her out and take her so because she was looking to go back in.”

Q: “Did you hear a loud fire before the blaze?”

Area Resident #2

“I believe that this is a house fire but I don’t understand why they wet this house; instead of that one. They could have saved this house here. I don’t understand what is happening in Belize. This house is burning, they will wet it now because it’s catching now but they could have saved upstairs there.”

Area Resident #3

“I was doing barbecue on the other side and my daughter tell me that my house was catching fire so I decided to come this way when I found out it was the neighbor’s house. But four years ago I had the same problem nearby; that was the fire on George Street. Sorry I don’t have time.”

Dickie Bradley, Minister of Housing

“We are too busy trying to make sure that they are attacking the fire from all angles and in fact my impression is that the fire service along with the volunteer elements are responding in terms of containing the fire in an extremely congested area, looking at a distance of four feet between that house there from this one in front of us. I think that in fact that at a time like this they have responded fairly well and have been able to contain a fire, which could have really gotten out of control.

As you know, congested areas are a major problem for us. Old wooden houses are a serious problem for fire fighting. The strategy we are going to do next year is we are going to comb around the city and see how we can help the southside where these old homes in terms of starting to replace them because an old house can take down a whole neighborhood. We are really proud of the fire service; I don’t know when they received the call and the time lapse between arriving on the scene. Once they did they have a strategy which has worked; they have contained a fire and prevented a major tragedy.”

Unconfirmed reports say that a young baby may have been killed in the lower flat of the house in which the fire started. Neighbors tell News Five that the mother was attempting to rescue the baby but the house was already engulfed in flames. The cause of the fire is as yet undetermined but witnesses say they heard a loud explosion and saw a ball of flames shoot into the sky.

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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