Latest — 16 May 2018 — by Courtney Menzies
House destroyed by fire due to old, malfunctioning fire-fighting equipment

BELIZE CITY, Fri. May 11, 2018– At around 7:37 a.m., the Fire Department was alerted to a fire at 7007 Iguana Street. Upon arrival at the scene of the fire, they discovered that the upper flat of a two-storey wooden structure was engulfed in flames.

According to Benisford Matura, Deputy Fire Chief, the firefighters immediately began to extinguish the fire using one of the two units that they had brought. After they had gotten the fire under control, they decided to use the other unit. However, Matura said, they began having mechanical difficulties with the second unit.

Matura mentioned that the people in the neighborhood speculated that the truck had run out of water, but he assures the public that this was not the case. Instead, the gears that transferred the power to the pump had malfunctioned. Therefore, they were unable to pump water from that truck. The only solution was to get the other truck to a hydrant so that it could be refilled.

Meanwhile, the neighbors assisted in quelling the fire by using buckets of water. After the fire truck was refilled, the firefighters successfully extinguished the fire, but not before the house was completely destroyed.

Fourteen persons were displaced due to the fire. This included five minors and nine adults living in both the upper and lower flats of the structure. According to Matura, the fire was caused by an electrical short due to the house receiving electricity from a neighbor’s power source rather than from Belize Electricity Limited (BEL).

Matura admits that had they not experienced the difficulties they did, they could have extinguished the fire more quickly. However, he also explained that sometimes, these difficulties do arise and there is no way to predict it. The department currently has mechanics working on the vehicles, but Matura said that they are definitely in need of new equipment and that they are in the process of trying to acquire new ones.

Matura said that they have “an aging fleet of trucks,” and that the latest truck that the department has —the very truck that malfunctioned— dates back to 2000.

The home was uninsured, and the value of the damage is unknown.

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