Eight people displaced following fire in Gales Point
The cause of yesterday afternoon’s fire in Gales Point Manatee is still undetermined. The blaze gutted a structure, several household items and as many three vehicles parked in Karim Smith’s yard. Smith, who works away from home, says he was having lunch at work when he got the news. He spoke to us via telephone this evening.
Karim Smith, Gales Point Fire Victim: “Well how the fire started we’re still puzzled. Still puzzled bout that because it started like from the back of the house in a room there you know ? That’s what my mother-in-law said.”
Reporter: Okay and you were at work so who was at home ?
Karim Smith, Gales Point Fire Victim: “I was at work and I got a call from my boss to tell one of my coworkers and then I rushed come home and the thing was already on flames burning. I work about three miles on the coast at a resort.”
Reporter: So who was at home at the time ?
Karim Smith, Gales Point Fire Victim: “My mother-in-law and my two kids. Everything total, washing machine, refridge, everything burned down. Three of my father-in-law’s vehicles burned up in the yard and then a next one they broke it up and pushed it away because it was four vehicles that were looking to catch fire total but we saved half of one.”
More than 24 hours after the fire, which was extinguished by a local bucket brigade, Smith says that the National Fire Service was called multiple times and still aid was not provided.
Karim Smith, Gales Point Fire Victim: “No sir. We called, well the chairman called Dangriga, Dangriga said they called Belize and they said oh they’re coming. They didn’t come, nobody came yet, no fireman nobody came there.”
Reporter: So just to clarify so you’re telling me that this fire happened yesterday afternoon at 1:30 ?
Karim Smith, Gales Point Fire Victim: “Yeah 1:30 about after lunch because I had already ate at work and when I was wiping my mouth and then I got the sad news that my house was on fire.”
Reporter: And you’re telling me that nobody from the fire service has been there as yet ?
Karim Smith, Gales Point Fire Victim: “Nobody came. Only the Gales Point Police came, one of them that took pictures. I don’t know if because we have a Coastal Road Patrol by the time I came I didn’t see that here it looks like they went a different way. Only one police from Gales Point came that is on the station.”
Reporter: So how did you guys manage to extinguish that considerably large blaze ?
Karim Smith, Gales Point Fire Victim: “Well what happened is that the guys we came out from the village and I met about fifty men in my yard bring in from the lagoon, through the house and they were carrying buckets throwing on the house and thing to try to control the fire.”
Fire Chief Colin Gillett told Love News (quote) “ The National Fire Service accepts that there are limits to our coverage. The closest fire station to Gales Point is in Dangriga Town. It would take the truck at least 45 minutes to get on the scene (taking into account the weight if the truck filled with water, road conditions, traffic, etc. By then, most structures would be in full blaze. We have steadily been working on improving our capabilities by expanding our coverage to reach the more rural communities. Until then we have been pushing the idea of becoming your own ‘first responder’.” End of quote