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7 persons without a home after Fire burns 2 buildings

There was an inferno blazing over the south side of Belize City last night. Two of three homes on a property on Rose Lane were totally destroyed as the heat quickly turned the wooden structures to kindle. Love News spoke to Shawn Belgrove who says that 7 persons, including her mother lost their home after 10 on Tuesday night.

Shawn Belgrove: “In the upper flat, it is my mom and my stepdad, that consists of two bedrooms and a bathroom. The downstairs is my niece and my nephew, his girlfriend, their four-month-old baby and my brother on the other side. The bathroom for that is adjacent to the house.”

Jose Sanchez: “Can you tell us the details of what time the fire started? and the Fire Service response?”

Shawn Belgrove: “Okay the fire started approximately at about 10:30 last night because when I got the call at my house from my sister I heard the screaming in the background and then I realized that something was wrong so I said approximately at about 10:30 the fire started last night and for the response, for the firefighters I must give them credit. People are saying they took too long, in my honest and humble opinion they were here. The problem is that they could not have gotten into the yard all the way to the back here because adjacent to our house is the family of the Jones’s. They do have pit bull dogs so one of the firefighters that came, he is relative to them so he knows. He had asked the others not to go in until they tied the dogs so for them the quick response to me was okay. The unfortunate thing is downstairs, it was old and that caused it to erupt in flames quickly. One of the things for me, I look at life in a most positive way. I always tell my mom that if there is a fire the only thing I need you to save is your documents because that is the hardest thing to retrieve and what happened is she reached downstairs, realized that she did not have it and ran up back upstairs but thankfully to the police officers that were there they saw the small structures and they said come down. She jumped from that third step there to the ground, she suffers arthritis in her knees but thanks God she is okay.”

Reporter: “How old is she?”

Shawn Belgrove: “61.”

Jose Sanchez: “Were they able to save anything from the fire?”

Shawn Belgrove: “Quite honestly no, nothing.”

Jose Sanchez: “Any estimate of the total damages? Where will everyone sleep tonight?”

Shawn Belgrove: “Okay since last night my mom has been with me and tonight thereafter until this is resolved she will be with me. We are a very large family so I am sure that my nephew and his girlfriend can go to her moms house, my niece has her boyfriend and then my brother well he is a grown man, he has a girlfriend. Here my only concern now is my stepfather because he has no one else other than my mom but I believe with time and God everything will work out.”

Belgrove says the loss is estimated at $70,000.  If you would like to help the family get back on its feet, you can call 600-8661 or 624-5638 with any donation.  The Belize National Fire Service returned to the scene this morning and though the investigation isn’t complete, Orin Smith, the Station Officer for the National Fire Service Orin Smith says it’s possible that the fire is the result of an overload of the electrical feed  since one house was sharing its electricity with the other.

Orin Smith Station Manager, National Fire Service: “Two wooden structures: the structure to the rear of the property was seen fully engulfed in flames and the structure to the front north section was also engulfed in flames. Following a brief size up we got into operations and extinguished the fire. As a result of that fire, the structure to the rear was destroyed, the structure to the front was basically gutted by the fire. Preliminary investigation reveals that the fire originated from the structure at the rear of the premise and no one appeared to had been home at the time. The structure to the rear of the premise was receiving an electrical feed from the front structure. The fire originated in an east compartment of the rear structure and on the southeast of that particular apartment. The cause of the fire is still not yet determined. The structure at the rear had a total of five occupants living there including one minor. The structure to the front had two persons living there, both adults, neither of these structures were insured. The investigation is leading towards the fault being electrical but the officers are still analyzing the data that they had collected. There is a great degree of risk involved in the electrical feed. When a house is naturally wired, a electrician takes his care to calculate the electrical load. The house is expected to bear circuit breakers and wirings that are sized appropriately and the housing is well grounded. When you have a drop received from an adjacent structure none of this is taken into account and often you might get a feed for a fridge or maybe a TV but later on a microwave gets added, a stereo gets added, a DVD player gets added and so it keeps building up. You might have another tenant that goes into the same building and receives your feed from the person who was already receiving a feed and you end up with a number of extensions off that one feed. That will create an overload at some point and starts a fire. Also because there is no grounding when there is an electrical surge it is almost certainly a fire will occur from either the electrical feed or one of the appliances the feed is connected to.”

Jose Sanchez: “Is that where the investigation is leading?”

Orin Smith Station Manager, National Fire Service: “ Yes that is is an overload of that feed.”

There was a second fire in the city last night. The police say that at 130

Partridge Street Extension they found a zinc structure partially damaged from fire. At approximately midnight, Keyshawn Young decided to use toilet paper as a mosquito repellant. After placing the roll of toilet paper on fire, he went to sleep.  At 2:40 a.m. he realized a part of the house was on fire. The value of damage is unknown and the Fire Department does not have any knowledge of the fire.