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Sep 13, 2021

Fire Displaces Six Families: Area Rep Gives Swift Help

Six families, including six children and a pregnant woman, are displaced after a fire swept through their yard and destroyed their homes in Belize City. It happened on the evening of September tenth, when most people were observing a scaled-back Battle of Saint George’s Caye Day holiday. As Marion Ali found out, the fire started soon after a dispute had occurred between two women, one of whom lived at the address. Now, police are looking for the female suspect. 


Marion Ali, Reporting

Life has not been the same since Friday for families who lived in six apartment units at number eleven Corner Sibun and Nargusta Streets in Belize City. Their small wooden houses were gutted sometime around six-thirty that evening. They saved absolutely nothing as they fled for safety.


Carlos Martinez

Carlos Martinez, Fire Victim

“I mi di watch TV, sudden I see the signal gone. I seh something di happen I tell my wife. Things weh I mi done sacrifice aredy ih gone like nothing.”


Hubert Sutherland

Hubert Sutherland, Fire Victim

“The house is an old house and ih burn real fast. The fire engulf everything real quick. So the first thing was to get my girlfriend and the kids out.”


Fire officials have concluded that the blaze was the result of a mischievous act.


Kenneth Mortis

Kenneth Mortis, Station Supervisor, National Fire Service

“We narrowed it down, based on observation, and investigation and information received that the fire started from one of the tenant’s room, twenty-three year-old Shanice Reyes. Miss Reyes wasn’t at home. She had left, secured her apartment with a locking mechanism. However, when the fire was observed, it was also observed that her door was open. Presumably it was forced open and shortly after the fire started. We were fortunate to speak with Ms Reyes who said she believes the fire could have been maliciously set.”


Shanice Reyes told News Five that she had just gone up the street to her relatives’ place when someone alerted her of the blaze. Reyes says she suspects that an old dispute with a former friend and work colleague led to the incident.


Shanice Reyes

Shanice Reyes, Fire Victim

“I remember the Thursday, me and this young lady mi gone through wa altercation. Well ih ma bring Police. When ih ma bring the Police dehn she she she mi want everything done. Well, I seh okay then ih done. When I look I meet – the same evening – she the individual who me and she mi have thing and her bredda – ih bredda mi di ride and she mi di walk but I nuh di think no way soh I just…”


Marion Ali

“You mean close to your house?”


Shanice Reyes

“Yeah, dehn walk past and I walk come ya.”


Fire officials have not found anything to suggest that a flammable fluid was used to light the fire, Station Supervisor with the National Fire Service, Kenneth Mortis told us that cloth could have been used.


Kenneth Mortis

“It’s possible that their intent was not to create such a catastrophic chain of events. Unfortunately, these buildings that once sat in this yard. In local terms, they are very ripe.”


Alejandro Cowo

Supt. Alejandro Cowo, O.C., C.I.B., Eastern Division

“Presently we are seeking one of the persons that is being mentioned to see what kind of assistance we can get from that person and exactly try to establish the motive behind the fire, noh.”


While authorities are looking for one woman pending questioning, the fire victims told News Five that help came swiftly for them.


Frances Martinez

Frances Martinez, Fire Victim

“Dehn get wa house fi rent. We eena wa rent right now. Dehn di pay wi rent fi two months, Human Development and NEMO.”


Marva Cayetano

Marva Cayetano, Fire Victim

“I di stay with one of my family members and then other people gone da dehn family members as well.”


Marion Ali

“Okay. Has anybody promised you assistance?”


Marva Cayetano   

“Well, the Minister, Mr. Mahler mi come by and ih tell mi ih wa come see me today and Human Development and NEMO di try give we wa lee assistance to.”


Minister of Tourism, Anthony Mahler, who is the Area Representative for Pickstock where the families lived, told News Five today that all six families are and will continue to receive assistance to help them back on their feet. He is also assisting the fire victims from Mahogany Street last week. Marion Ali for News Five.


The families from Friday’s fire have received mattresses and other basic items and clothing but are asking for assistance with children’s and baby clothing and pampers. If you’d like to help these families, you can call them at 662 6703, 623 2667, or 652 3455.


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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