Headline — 30 November 2016 — by Albert J. Ciego
Landmark building, Chateau Caribbean Hotel, destroyed by fire

BELIZE CITY, Sun. Nov. 27, 2016–The Chateau Caribbean Hotel, one of the old capital’s landmark buildings, which was built in 1927 and was a favorite hotel and restaurant which has seen many glory days, including the filming of an action movie Dogs of War, was destroyed by a huge fire which began about 7:30 this morning, Sunday, November 27.

Even up to 3:30 this afternoon, smoke was still rising from the burnt remains of the building. The flames were completely put out at about 9:30 tonight, about 14 hours after fire engulfed the iconic landmark.

The elegant Chateau Caribbean Hotel, made of timber and concrete, was located in the Fort George area, at the corner of Marine Parade and South Park Street.

The fire reportedly began in the kitchen of the establishment. It quickly spread from there to the other parts of the building. The guests of the hotel were safely evacuated and the Belize City Fire Service went to the scene and commenced its attempts to put out the flames that had engulfed the building.

On our arrival on the scene, at about 9:00 this morning, thick smoke and flames were coming out of the roof of the building and firefighters from four fire trucks did their best to put out the fire.

A fireman told us that they could not gain entry into the building, and had to just spray water into the building from the outside.

While we were watching, a fireman who was on the verandah of the third floor of the hotel managed to remove a burglar bar from one of the windows, which gave them access through that window to spray water into the building. At the same time, two more firemen on the truck’s ladder used tools to remove the burglar bar from another window to also gain entry.

During an interview with the media this evening at the National Fire Service headquarters, Fire Chief Ted Smith said that that there were challenges.

Firstly, the firemen were exhausted after battling a fire at West Collet Canal which erupted about 1:40 Sunday morning and was put out at about 4:30 that morning.

After putting out the fire, the firefighters returned to base and while they were cleaning up and putting tools and equipment in order, they received another fire call at about 8:30, this time at the Chateau Caribbean Hotel. On their arrival, they saw the building engulfed in flames. He said that they responded immediately, and within 5 minutes they were on the scene, but he still does not know why the Fire Service was not called earlier.

Smith said that from his house, he had seen thick black smoke from about 8:00 that morning. The fire was burning prior to the smoke being seen, and was well underway when the Fire Service was called.

Chief Smith said that they responded with 3 shifts of firefighters and 4 trucks. However, the firefighters working on the shift that would have been done on Saturday night could not leave, and they went onto the Chateau Caribbean Hotel fire scene and battled that fire throughout the day.

He said that the firemen were so exhausted that one of them fell and one of them sustained an injury to his hand, because he was not wearing his protective suit when he smashed a glass window.

Chief Smith said that among the challenges in putting out the fire at the hotel was the fact that the firemen could not enter the building because the flooring had collapsed.

The police and fire investigators have begun an investigation into the cause of the massive fire.

The Chateau Caribbean was a premier hotel and restaurant which was featured on Trip Advisor and given high ratings. It was also featured on many other hotels directories and magazines.

We were told by a long-time resident of the area that the building was constructed in 1927 by a German immigrant, Mr. Brittles, and his family. He later sold the building to a physician known as Dr. McCleary, who turned it into a hospital and named it the Holden Memorial Hospital to honor the men who died in World War 2.

A piece of history has now been destroyed.

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