Headline — 23 May 2014 — by Albert J. Ciego
Murder by fire!

Woman, 84, burnt to death – fire officials, after investigation, say arson

Isolene Gabourel, 84, a resident of a home at the corner of Douglas Jones and Cleghorn Streets, was burnt to death while sleeping in her house, which was completely destroyed by the fire at about 4:00 this morning.

Security guards on duty at the JL’s Quick Loan Company, which is located in front of the house, responded to Gabourel’s cry for help, but the fire spread quickly and engulfed the house, which prevented them from going in to save her.

Other persons from the neighborhood who tried to go into the house to rescue Gabourel, who lived alone, were also repelled by the flames. They called 911 and the Belize City Fire Service, which responded quickly, but by the time they arrived, the house had been destroyed and Gabourel was already dead.

The fire was put out by the Fire Service, shortly after, and firemen who went into the house discovered Gabourel’s body in an area by the front door.

The Fire Service has declared the cause of the fire to be arson, said operations officer Orin Smith. He said that the back door had been bolted from inside and the front door had been burnt. The only way Gabourel could have been saved was by jumping out of the window, he said.

Tanesha Usher, Gabourel’s granddaughter, said that this morning, she was at home sleeping when at about 4:00 a.m. she was awakened by her boyfriend, who told her that her grandmother’s house was on fire. She quickly rushed to the house and saw that the areas around the front and back doors were engulfed in flames. She enquired about Gabourel’s whereabouts, but no one had seen her, and that was when she was told that the old lady was in the burning house.

Usher said that when Gabourel’s body was recovered, she could discern that she had been trying to get out of the house. She said that she believed that the fire was set. The area she saw burning was by the front door and the back area, the two exit areas through which Gabourel could have left the house.

At that time, the upper flat was burning, trapping Gabourel.

Usher said that her grandmother did not have a stove or electricity, and that the windows of the house were burglar-barred, and it would have been difficult for the rescuers to go into the house through the windows to save her.

Dennis Gabourel, Isolene’s son, told Amandala that he also believes the fire was caused by arson, and he is at a loss for a reason why anyone would want to kill his mother.

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