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May 26, 1998

Belize City fire looks like arson

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Domestic disputes and the resulting fall out are nothing new to this newscast, but the alleged action of one man in the wee hours of Monday morning appears to be in a class by itself. As News Five’s Patrick Jones reports, a disgruntled boyfriend may have taken justice into his own hands and in the process turned up the heat on a number of people who reside at number twenty nine New Road in Belize City.

By the time fire fighters arrived on the scene the one flat wooden structure was already beyond help.

Henry Baizar, Fire Chief

“Initially two vehicles came out at the scene of the fire on New Road here, and on arrival they found the entire building already under fire, engulfed in flames or what not, and a building to the northeast of it was already on fire. So what they did, they attacked that building and got it out and actually contained the fire to the one building that they found on fire.”

But before the first drop of water was thrown on the burning thirty five by thirty structure, there was talk that the incident was the result of foul play.

Henry Baizar

“We’re getting some information that one of the occupants had a quarrel with one, a guy who actually lives in the same building and he had threatened to burn the building down. We are pursuing this and as soon as we get some information, we’re going to let you know exactly what transpired.”

According to Baizar, investigation into the holiday incident has ruled out electrical fault as the cause of the blaze and that information gathered so far is heavily supporting the arson theory.

Henry Baizar

“There is no indication that the fire could have started from any other source but that someone must have started the fire.”

Q: “There was a stove in the building, couldn’t that have been the origin?”

Henry Baizar

“Well, where the stove is located, the stove is located on the eastern part of the building. Where the fire started, the fire started on the west side of the building, which is completely from one side to the next. So it couldn’t have started from the stove. It started on the west side of the building but outside of the building.”

One of the victims told investigators she was on her bed when she smelt gasoline and that shortly after heard a small explosion.

Henry Baizar

“Voop and when she looked outside she saw fire running from the southwest corner of the building to the northwestern corner of the building, just one big flash of flame, voop. So the only way that could have started was if someone had thrown gasoline or diesel or something on the ground and then put it afire.”

P. J.

“Whoever might have started this fire must not have been somebody who is too bright. I say that because they could have burned down half of the northside just by that one careless action.”

Henry Baizar

“Well that’s true and we need to, if it is proven that this person whom the police have is the guilty offender then I think they should come down real hard on him. Because I mean, a second house almost burned down. If the fire department didn’t get there pretty quick we could have had a big fire on our hands.”

The building, which is the property of Mildred Crawford, was not insured and except for a couple of suitcases of clothes, everything else went up is smoke. Patrick Jones, for News Five.

According to Baizar, the call came in to the station around twelve thirty and a team of fire fighters was dispatched to the scene shortly after. At the time of the fire, the house was occupied by twenty three year old Annette Chavez and eight other persons. Police have detained twenty five year old construction worker Wayne Baint who is expected to appear in Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday morning to answer to a possible charge of arson.

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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