Today, a fire broke out in an open lot near Vernon Street in Belize City. While it was only a bush fire, many of the residents feared for their homes and their lives. Reporter Courtney Menzies spoke to some of the residents and brought back this report.
This afternoon a fire that was reportedly set by idle young boys in the Vernon Street area caused traffic to be diverted as the area was blocked off. Though no lives or property were lost in the fire the residents were full of fear. Station supervisor Cadet Mortis so that the firefighters did their best to ensure the fire was extinguished.
Cadet Mortis, Station Supervisor, Belize Fire Department: “As you can see in the background the fire was much more frightening than what it looks like now that it has been subsided. Initially, when we came we encountered a lot of fire, fire that you would have thought that the house was burning. So, of course, we had to do what we do best we got into operation trying to bring the fire under control, trying to assure the residents that no houses would have been lost eventually it was a collective effort between the fire department and the neighbors and that is how we managed to bring the fire under control.
Annette Gentle, Resident of the area: “My grandson came in and said “gran there is a fire behind my aunt’s house!” so I told them that I would call the fire department and we were calling and I tried to look out but you couldn’t see anything because it was all white and I was calling the fire department but we couldn’t get through. After that we all tried calling until finally, when the truck got here now there was no water so we decided to take it with the water hose and start to spray with the water hose and we were trying to maneuver it. If this had continued to come this way you see how many houses would have been destroyed? So it would have definitely reached the houses and then the breeze that was blowing and it was also dry grass under the fire.”
Concerned Resident: “It was the same little boys from behind here did that you know? You could go to the churchman in the yard and he pointed them out and said who all, it was four of them who did it. I have people’s uniform, I have carnival clothes, I have college uniforms and all and all kinds of uniform that I am sewing. I had to take my hose and wet the back and wet my house and people next door too. It’s pure foolishness what those little boys did, I had already said I didn’t know what I would do to get back those people’s things, seriously they just do foolishness. All my things are in my house.”
The fire could have been much worse if not for the collective effort of the community. While some pulled out their hoses others started a bucket brigade. One area resident said that the community is a united one.
Area resident: “The first thing I could have do is run to assist, coming to assist the fire truck they were doing their own routine with two different fire and ours was the third one and so we were very unfortunate for the truck to arrive in time so we tried to do our own thing to try to make the fire stop. We all put our thumbs together as a helping family, a helping community and by the grace of god the fire was put out and you can see here that everybody is happy and nobody lost their house. I think it’s some mischievous young boys from the neighborhood but we don’t want any police report we will deal with it our kind of way, not a criminal kind of way but we will deal with it as a community because that could have cost everyone their house and in this community nobody would have been able to help us, I don’t know how we would have done it but we would have tried to do it.”
While nothing was damaged in this fire the possibility of houses burning down was very real, the fire raged in an overgrown open lot which residents say has been a problem since it is not being maintained.
Cadet Mortis, Station Supervisor, Belize Fire Department: “The overgrowing vegetation is always a factor, this seems to be an open lot so I really can’t say who has the
responsibility to maintain it.”
Annette Gentle, Resident of the area: “On Sunday we were at a meeting and we spoke about the churchyard, the young man who owns the church he can’t maintain the whole of this but this Sunday we had a meeting right here. I can’t say when the last time was I think from last year the place got cleaned, from last year.”