Photo: Burnt remains of Seine Bight fire
by Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan. 26, 2023
Over the past week, there were three separate incidents in which a home or several homes were destroyed by fire. The first blaze occurred on Monday, January 23, in the Vietnam Area of Seine Bight Village, Stann Creek District, and it has resulted in the displacement of about 15 persons who lived in structures destroyed by the flames. The second took place on Wednesday, January 25, in the Kings Park area of Belize City. And the final fire occurred in the wee hours of Thursday morning and burnt a business establishment, also in the Seine Bight area.
In the first incident, the 20-by-20-foot home of Lavern Azru of Seine Bight burst into flames shortly before 9:00 a.m. on Monday—reportedly after she stepped outside her home into the yard.
While no one was injured in the fire, the flames spread to another wooden house, owned by Macaria Arzu, and destroyed both homes along with the contents. Three other houses in the vicinity received various degrees of fire damage.
It was noted by Kenneth Mortis, Station Manager at the National Fire Service, that none of the structures that were destroyed by the fire had electricity.
The fire victims believe that someone maliciously set their home ablaze; however, Mortis told local reporters that this might not be the case, as unconfirmed reports suggest that the fire was caused by two children.
“We have unconfirmed reports, and it’s unconfirmed, because it is a conversation between two kids, whereby this neighbor reportedly heard a conversation between the two kids saying that ‘yo see yo set this place pan fyah’. While I must stress that this conversation came from two children, it’s unfortunate, because we cannot take their information [as] credible in the absence of the parent or social worker, which gives these family members enough time to detour that unconfirmed report,” he said.
“… at a certain age, kids become inquisitive, and if they see a lighter around, they would want to know what damage that lighter can do and fascinate what a lighter can cause. It has shown over the years that numerous structural fires have been as a result of children [being left] alone with a lighter or a match, and the results are always costly,” Mortis added.
Mortis also noted that the family is not cooperating with either fire personnel or police, but as of press time, they are still being questioned by police, which will result in the cause of the fire being ruled as undetermined.
He noted that the two burnt structures were not insured and were valued at between $75,000 and $90,000, with the contents inside having an estimated value of around $100,000.
Two days after that incident, around midday on Wednesday, a two-story structure, the bottom made of cement and the upper flat of wood, burst into flames on Gentle Avenue in Belize City, with the fire primarily impacting the upper flat.
When fire personnel arrived to extinguish the fire, they discovered that the blaze had managed to spread to another home. None of the occupants were present at the time of the fire, thus fire personnel were unable to gather information to determine the cause of the fire.
Mortis noted that Earl Garbutt, the resident of the home which initially caught on fire, had said that he had left his residence to go to the nearby shop to purchase some items, and while returning he heard cries alerting him that there was a fire, not realizing that it was his home.
Mortis believes that the cause of the fire could have been electrical, as the home was receiving electricity from an adjacent building.
Approximately 6 persons were displaced as a result of this fire, with neither home being insured. The value of the damages has not yet been estimated.
Lastly, at around 3:00 a.m. today, the Mountain View Club in the Seine Bight area, known to locals as “The Palapa,” was completely destroyed by fire. There has been no definitive conclusion on what may have caused the fire, as details are scarce as of press time.