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Nov 20, 2012

5 families homeless after Lake I fire

At least twenty-one persons have been left without a roof over their heads in two fires that erupted in a span of twelve hours in Belize City. The first inferno that started just before two this morning swept through an apartment building in Lake Independence. Five families, including fifteen school aged children, were jolted out of their slumber by the blaze. They were left with only the clothes on their backs and complain that the Fire Department was too late in arriving at the scene.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

An early morning conflagration on Moya Street, in the Lake Independence area, has left five families displaced.  A total of fifteen residents, a majority of whom are minors, are tonight homeless, following an intense fire that consumed everything in its path.  Gilbert Cadle, whose adjoining property was completely gutted, was awaken by acrid fumes emanating from the next door building.


Gilbert Cadle

Gilbert Cadle, Fire Victim

“Smoke wake me up ‘bout 1:30 dis mawnin and when I get up [I sih] fyah di come from mi left hand side ah dis building, soh.  But weh ih staat I noh know.  Well from 1:30 me and mi neighba and ‘bout fifteen pickney deh outta door.”


Neighbors would later complain about the tardy response of the fire department and the ensuing problems in trying to quench the inferno.  The police, however, were on the scene within an hour.


Raphael Martinez

Raphael Martinez, Police Press Officer

“At approximately two-thirty in the morning, police visited number four Flamboyant Street in Belize City where they saw the long barracks with zinc roof, measuring approximately forty by thirty feet and comprising of four apartments, engulfed in flames. The fire personnel extinguished the flames and the initial investigations revealed that at approximately two-ten on the said date, Tuesday the twentieth of November, Miss Alice Guzman, who is a traffic officer of the same address, was awakened by smoke and fire coming from her apartment and as a result she alerted the other occupants of the long barracks. The entire long barracks was destroyed by fire. In total we had six adults and thirteen minors who were left homeless. The long barracks is property of the government of Belize and the value of the building and items damaged by fire is not ascertained as yet. No one was hurt in this fire.”


While there were no casualties, thirty year-old Crena Stevens, a mother of three, has also lost everything.  Her wooden abode was reduced to cinders, the remnants of her belongings strewn across the lot.


Crinnia Stevens, Fire Victim

Crinnia Stevens

“We neva end up and save nothing, just di clothes pan [wih back], you know, and same thing with the three kids dehn.  We noh end up and save nothing, no books, nothing, nothing.  So like I just di ask to di media and di minister dehn, two minister, PUP/UDP, anybody, fi just mek dehn try please cohn cohn just assist we because like right now we noh have no way fi go and we noh have nothing.”


According to Operations Officer Benisford Matura, of the National Fire Service, the department’s efforts to extinguish the fire were met with challenges in accessing the nearby Haulover Creek.


Benisford Matura

Benisford Matura, Operations Officer, National Fire Service

“All our trucks have water, contrary to what people might think.  On arrival we went and we used the initial water from the fire trucks and at that point we had to find a source of water.  Right up the street from Flamboyant, the river is there, because we would usually go to it but the access to it was not appropriate.  It was blocked so we had to divert and go down to Lavender Street and that took a little time because it’s like three blocks away.”


That account, nonetheless, is hotly disputed by a clearly frustrated Cadle.  Besides castigating his area representative and fire officials, he is desperately seeking public assistance.


Gilbert Cadle

“Nobody noh cohn.  We call Mark King, he no respond.  No, nobody cohn and check we.  We call again but nobody respond.  Di fireman dehn cohn [and] dehn noh even have wata eena dehn f*cking thing [fire truck].  Yeah, so when dehn cohn di barracks done di burn.  So nobody noh save nothing, me nor mi neighba dehn.  So, I noh know, we need help bad cause if yoh conscious right, no way deh fi sleep later, me nor mi pickney, nor mi lady, worse mi neighba dehn.  So we need assistance from anybody, no care da who.”


An investigation into the cause of the fire was launched earlier today.  Preliminarily, fire officials were still unable to determine the cause of the blaze. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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4 Responses for “5 families homeless after Lake I fire”

  1. Alfonso Ozaeta Sr says:

    The possibility and challenges of such emergencies put an onus on the National Fire Service Department to consider seriously the need for periodic drills to be ever prepared to respond effectively and with a minimal loss of time.

  2. cayo-g says:

    God Bless you people. Hope everyone prays for you all and I hope this mult-million/billion dollar gov’t helps you atleast with something. Best of luck!

  3. Storm says:

    I, too, believe the Fire Service can be improved — I suggest we ask for outside advice on the best way to organize, train, equip, and deploy our firefighters so they have better ability to respond quickly and quench fires successfully. I am sure, if GOB is not too proud to ask for help, we could find some some agency, maybe in the US, that can lead us in a better direction. It’s for the people.

  4. armey ogaldez says:

    Hi All,
    I am the sister of the one of the victim of the fire and all that you have said are true. I have to say big thanks to first carribbean bank but most of all thanks to the area rep Mark King for not only showing up but helping with everything, food clothing matress refridge stove and blocks to build back our homes. We cannot b political about this situation bc i am a pup and Mr. king knows that and still helped us…. thanks for all your support God is good….

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