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Jun 13, 2022

A Mother of Two Perishes in House Fire in Belize City

Tessie Camal

And several blocks away from the scene of this afternoon’s fatal attack on Faber’s Road, a mother of two perished in a weekend fire at her home in Belize City. Tessie Camal’s husband was at work on Saturday night when he received a disturbing phone call that their property on Faber’s Road was engulfed in flames.  It was not until Bruce Garbutt arrived at the scene that he learned of his common-law’s wife demise. Fire officials are still trying to determine what caused the deadly fire. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Thirty-nine-year-old Tessie Camal lost her life in a house fire on Saturday night here in Belize City.  She was at home in the vicinity of Faber’s Road Extension when the elevated structure she occupied with her common-law husband went up in flames.  Neighbors told News Five this morning that they observed the house on fire sometime around midnight.


Voice of: Neighbor of Deceased

“We came out to see the fire because my lee bredda come out same time and he run eena di room and he seh, “Mommy and daddy, Mister Bruce house deg pan fire.”  So when we come out, because we had to come out because ah di heat eena di house.  So we come out but when we come out we di try help but di house mi done unda flame already and we di stone because we know that she eenside and di last thing we hyah da like, yoh know when somebody di run and di person just drop, yoh only hay “bup” and then di whole house just engulf eena flame.”


The National Fire Service was alerted of the blaze, however, when they responded, firefighters immediately proceeded to douse the flames.  Unbeknownst to them, Camal was inside the burning structure.


Kenneth Mortis

Kenneth Mortis, Station Supervisor, National Fire Service

“We received the call of a structural fire.  We did not receive the call of anybody trapped in a building.  There is two difference. When we receive the call of a structural fire, we go into defensive mode.  Had we received the call of someone being in that building, we would have gone into offensive mode.  Seeing that the door was open and an entrance was made for us, then we conducted an internal firefighting and that was when we found this body in the room.”


Someone who lives nearby, who spoke with us off-camera, said that while the firemen arrived not too long after the call was placed, it was too little, too late.  The mother of two had already perished in the inferno.


Voice of: Neighbor of Deceased

“When dehn cohn, dehn neva tek long fi get dehn equipment and out di fire, but ih mi done late because she perished in there, yoh know.  And we contacted the common-law which is Bruce [Garbutt], but we couldn’t get ahn because ih mi da work.  Soh dehn call di casino direct and da soh dehn get ahn and by the time he come, his facial expression, he wahn know like weh happen.  And first thing he asked [was] where is Tessie and he run eena di house and di house mi still hot.  Even when di zinc and thing di fall he mi done deh een deh and he di look for ahn.”


Despite the fact that Camal’s common-law was contacted while he was on duty at the Princess Casino, Assistant Superintendent Fitzroy Yearwood said that he was still questioned in connection with the tragic incident.


ASP Fitzroy Yearwood

ASP Fitzroy Yearwood, Communications Director, BPD

“Investigators questioned her common-law husband, Bruce Garbutt, who claimed that he left from home around 7:30 that night to work at one of the casinos, and the neighbors alerted the police and fire department that they saw flames and upon smelling what they believed was smoke from that house, they contacted the authorities. So at the time Mister Garbutt claims he was at work and Miss Tessie was at home by herself.”


The National Fire Service has launched an investigation into the cause of the deadly house fire but have been unable, thus far, determine the cause.


Kenneth Mortis

“To date, there are speculations into the cause but there isn’t anything concrete.  We know that the fire started in the southwestern portion of the building which would have represented the bedroom that Ms. Camal was in. We found her, like rightly mentioned, that she was in a face down position. One of the right arm was under the bed, actually it was under the remains of the bed.  Her back, that was exposed to the fire, was burnt, leaving her entire face that was shielded by the ground. We know that the room she was in lies literally right across from the front door.  So, had she been conscious, we believe that she could have made her way out of the building, out of her room  and literally straight across the front door.  How she managed to have been found in that position is still undetermined.”


Isani Cayetano For News Five


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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