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Apr 17, 2023

Did Homeowner Set Oleander Street House on Fire?

On Saturday night, a fire broke inside a concrete structure in the Saint Martin de Porres area of Belize City. It was reportedly home to Glenford Webster, a person, residents, say who has a mental condition and lived in the house alone. The structure had no electricity and the fire is believed to have been set by Webster, who was seen leaving the property minutes before the blaze. While fire fighters responded quickly to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent structures, the National Fire Service is reporting seven such incidents involving mental health patients since the start of 2023. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Around eleven o’clock on Saturday night, a fire broke out near the long barracks on Oleander Street in Belize City. It started inside a concrete structure that has been home to Glenford Webster for years.


Kenneth Mortis

Kenneth Mortis, Station Supervisor, National Fire Service

“It’s a funny one, so to speak, not humorous, but funny because we arrived and we confirmed that the structure was occupied by a fellow, Mister Bennett, I believe his name was. This fellow didn’t even want to cooperate with the police department much less us. We only gathered that he had mental issues and he ignited this house on fire after having a lengthy one-on-one conversation with himself and then he fled the scene.”


Kareem Eagan, a neighbour, was inside his home when he was alerted by smoke permeating his house. He went outside and within seconds, flames shattered the window to Webster’s house.


Voice of: Kareem Eagan, Neighbour

“I was inside watching lee TV and stuff, smell lee smoke, but noh pay it no mind. Wah minute after when I do smell smoke again, I say for the hours and the type of smoke I di smell, it noh normal. So by the time I come out and I look, I see like smoke di puff through the ceiling. So when I see smoke di puff through the ceiling, I instantly halla fi “Web,” wondering if he deh in there or weh di happen. When I conscious no response, the first thing I want see like weh really di happen now and I conscious dah wah fire di happen, I bust mi pipe and just start try cool off mi place fi di meantime cause I done know fire engine noh deh nowhere far from come. Heavy smoke, heavy smoke and like a minute after because the fire just bust out through the window and take off through the roof. And neighbours come out, give me a lee hand and start wet up my lee roof wet up this corner of the wall. But like weh everybody di base pan, fire engine in right here and a minute after fire engine is here.”


The property had no electricity and residents believe that Webster, who is known to have a mental condition, set the house on fire. The National Fire Service confirms this and Station Supervisor Kenneth Mortis says that seven fires for 2023 have been set by persons with mental health conditions.


Voice of: Kareem Eagan

“All my life I know dah yah he deh, but ih gone dah jail for a time, mussi wah ten-year span, and ih just come out like a two years now. But from since ih come out, this dah di result of him; somebody weh mi di suffer with a mental problem.”


Kenneth Mortis

“I don’t really know what is in place for these people as a country, what kind of assistance is out there for them. The relative department that deal with these types of people, I really can’t say and I can’t comment on that. However, this is something that since 2023 has started, this is a common trend whereby we respond to these fires and we hear that it is someone with a mental issue that’s responsible for these fires. If I am not mistaken, the statistics will show that to date seven of these fires are as a result of somebody talking to themselves and then finally setting alight these buildings on fire.”


Eagan is thankful to the residents who came out to assist him, but says that the quick response from the National Fire Service saved his property and that of the adjacent structures along the barracks.


Voice of: Kareem Eagan

“If I wasn’t wetting it, it would have been worse; if the fire engine wasn’t on time, it could have been really worse. They really did a great job.”


Kenneth Mortis

“We did a satisfactory job. You rightfully mention it could have been worse. When something like this happen whereby the fire strategic operation is noticed and recognised, this is when we give kudos to the neighbours. I mean this was a Saturday night fire, after hours, everybody could have been asleep or nobody could have been at home. But the neighbours around that were alerted of the fire first, they were the first initial fire-fighters until the professionals came in. So I have to recognise them and give them credit for the job that they did.”


Duane Moody 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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