The National Fire service is taking a lot of heat over their handling of the Orange Walk fire. The trucks lacked access to water from a nearby fire hydrant, and a town resident had to assist with a water truck. This afternoon the Fire Service held a 42 minutes press conference during which they made it clear that there was nothing that could be done to save the lives, as the roof had already collapsed. What they revealed in infographics was a situation that could have been less cumbersome if building codes were adhered to. There was only one main exit to the building because of a barbershop that locked off the other exit. The main exit was adjacent to the kitchen and the gas tank was an additional incendiary to a fire that the department alleges was started on the stove. Fire Chief Ted Smith and Station Officer Orin Smith did a CSI style reconstruction the scene.
Ted Smith Are Chief Belize National Fire Service: “We have put together to the best of our ability an artistic drawing of the structure of what we would call in fire fighting terms we reconstruct the scene as best as possible, it will not be perfect but as best as possible. Mr. Smith the ,lead fire investigator here,will now walk you through as to what we believe the cause to the fire, the origin and cause to the fire.”
Orin Smith Fire Department: “Discussion with the Officer responsible for CIB unit stated earlier in the morning sometime around 8, he had discussion with the mom. In their discussion she admitted they have something.There were discovered on top the stove a cool liquid that resembles that of aluminum which I would believe may have been an aluminum pot if I understood. It appears after they returned home for whatever the reason may be they had put that pot on the stove with its contents and fell asleep. She was awoken by the husband who told them there was smoke in house and that they need to get out however being where the fire started it compromised earlier in the fire the only exit from the structure: The north exit which is in the rear side of the structure. The structure indeed has two exits, it has a south exit here but sometime before a barber shop in this section was added to structure. As a result this exit was boarded up to I would believe prevent occupants of the barber shop of having access into the structure. The family mother, father and the young child that survived in this was occupying this room. The father had to literally tear away the barricade from there to have the family exit the structure. The children were occupying the room: three of them. The time it took the father to tear down the barricade caused the fire which was unimpeded to expand that when they got out, by the time they got out the temperature that was in the house had already risen tremendously. Eventually the Butane tank which was blowing fire across the stove in the previous slide here that comprise the exit early fell down and started blowing fire still cross the access way. That contributed tremendously to rapidly accelerate the fire growth. The father eventually was trapped within the bathroom and the children within their room and he never made it out as a result of the rapid development that took place of the fire there. The fire originated on the stove which early compromise the plastic tubing of the butane causing the gas to torch across the stove blocking the rear exit. The family father, mother and youngest child were alerted when the father smelled the smoke got up and informed the mother of the situation. Exiting the room they could not exit the building by means of the rear exit. The front exit was bared shut when a barber shop was added to the south east corner of the building. He had to tear down the barriers to exit with the mother and young child. Across from their room is the room the three children were occupying. They however were not notified it appears of the impending danger.. When the father did tear down the barrier from the South exit and exited onto Cinderella St. according to the mother they heard a scream from one of their daughters and the father made the conscious decision to return into the structure to try and get the children. By that time it appears the fire had grew tremendously, the temperature had risen tremendously and smoke filled the building and the tank fallen still torching still compromised the rear exit. He took shelter or refuge in the bathroom area. The children were trapped within the confines of their room. The adjacent structure and the west wall of the structure of origin were so close together with the wall there was no windows along this section that the children could have escaped from so they remained trapped and they are perished.”
The Fire Chief said residents should not use plastic but copper tubing to connect gas tanks to stoves and they should also use fire alarms for those precious moments that could mean the difference between life and death.