BELIZE CITY, Wed. Oct. 14, 2020– Two buildings were destroyed by separate fires in the city over the long weekend, and in the wake of these blazes, 21 people are homeless.
The first fire occurred at about 11:30 Friday night, and it destroyed a timber apartment building in which there were 8 apartments that were occupied by 8 families, that together consisted of 20 persons ranging in age from 2 years to 75 years old.
Those 20 persons are now homeless, and all their possessions were destroyed.
According to reports we’ve received, a mother who lived in one of the apartments went out, leaving her little son, 4, unattended, during which time the little boy found a lighter and began to play with it in the apartment.
That activity started the fire in the apartment, which spread quickly to the rest of the building.
Kenneth Mortis, Station Supervisor at the Belize National Fire Service, said that on their arrival at the scene of the fire on Partridge Street, they saw the lumber building engulfed in flames. They started the operation to try to put the fire out, but there were obstacles, because the electrical wires that were burning and sparking, put the lives of the firefighters in danger, and one of the trucks began to malfunction.
The truck was sourcing water from a canal just across from the burning building, but it was pulling out a lot of mud, which created problems.
The problems were rectified, however, and the fire was confined and put out. Luckily, no one was killed or injured.
Mortis said that the investigation into the blaze found that the fire started in apartment 1 in the complex, and from there, it spread to the building.
The fire investigators concluded that the fire was caused, as previously mentioned, by the unattended 4-year-old boy who had been playing with a lighter.
Gareth Gill, who lived in one of the apartments, is calling on police to arrest the mother of the boy and to charge her for the destruction of the building.
Gill told the media that on many occasions, the mother of the boy and his siblings, 2 years old and 6 years old, would go out and leave them unattended, and he would take care of them. He had complained to the Family Violence Unit, and they had visited the apartment and found the children unattended, and had taken the children into their care, but they then returned them to the mother.
Gill said that the mother habitually neglected the kids. He said that sometimes when she went out, she would stay out all night, or would return at about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.
The second fire occurred at about 12:30 Monday morning at the corner of Mahogany Street and Western Avenue. Lester Ramclam, 56, told police and fire investigators that he was asleep in his house, when he was awakened by heat and smoke, and when he got up to see what was happening, he saw his house engulfed in flames, and he quickly evacuated.
Kenneth Mortis said that on their arrival at the scene, they saw the lumber house engulfed in flames, and they got into operation and put out the fire.
The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained, but they have been told that the house was deliberately set on fire, and they are collecting samples of the remains of the home to test for an accelerant.
Luckily, Ramclam did not suffer injuries.