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Seven families displaced after early morning fire

Fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed three houses and displaced over thirty persons last night on Glenn Street in Belize City. The fire started at an abandoned house that residents in the area say was occupied only by a few homeless persons. The blaze grew quickly and spread to two more houses adjacent to it. No one was hurt but the families lost everything they owned. Our news team followed the story today. Dalila Ical reports.


Fire Chief Ted Smith says seven families, a total of thirty one persons, children included were displaced this morning after their homes burnt down.

Ted Smith – Fire Smith

“These were three two story wooden structures extremely old, far up in age. The fire started at number 14 Glenn Street. The fire then spread to the other two adjacent structures located East of number 14 Glenn Street.”

The fire began sometime after midnight and woke the family next to the abandoned house. Fred Usher Junior was awakened by his mother.

Fred Usher Junior – Resident

“She said there was a fire, first she thought it was rain because she normally gets up in the night to wash but she woke us up in distraught. We evacuated the house and took what we could.”

Rutilio Villanueva and his family were asleep and were awakened by banging on his door. One of his neighbors alerted them to the danger.

Rutilio Villanueva – Fire Victim

“Everyone came outside and we were standing outside waiting for the fire truck to reach. The fire truck took almost half hour to get to the place, when the first building already collapsed which they did good. I am not talking bad about the fire department. They tried their best but what happened is that they ran out of water. When the truck ran out of water, that is when the fire caught back again and they couldn’t control it because it took another hour to get back.”

Fire Chief Smith said they responded as swiftly as possible but the fire spread quickly.

Ted Smith – Fire Chief

“One, number 14 was fully engulfed in flames, the fire was already in freeburning and open stage. The whole structure was fully engulfed. The structure located directly East of that structure had fire also coming out of the attic area, the Western attic area; so that structure was already on fire as well. The department immediately went into operation to try to contain that fire. We can only respond to an incident, an emergency when we are informed. We keep emphasizing that.”

Three families, a total of twelve persons lived in the same building with Villanueva. They all lost their belongings. Villanueva said both his cat and dog both perished in the fire.  Adan Aguilar lived in the other house that was destroyed.

Adan Aguilar – Fire Victim

“When we came out of our house, the house had already burnt down to the ground so the second house caught fire and the third one caught fire because we ended trying to take out our documents and basically could not take out everything so we only ended up taking out our documents and some clothes.”

But the department is also being criticised for other short falls. They ran out of water, prompting Usher and his family to save their home on their own.

Fred Usher Junior – Resident

“Twenty minutes after the fire truck got here, they ran out of water so we had to take action. We had to burst our pipeline and with the quick help of my uncles, my brothers and cousins, we managed to extinguish the flames and try contain the fire from spreading more to our yard.  The other houses were already damaged because of the way the wind was blowing.”

Dalila Ical – Reporter

“What kind of damages did your house sustain?”

Fred Usher Junior – Resident

“We mostly got a lot of water damage and little scorches on the side of our house.”

Ted Smith – Fire Chief

“We exhausted both tanks of water. One was deployed to the canal and eventually supplementary water came back to the scene. Ladyville truck was brought in to set up an additional attack from the Eastern section operating from the Canal by Publics and we were able to contain that fire. I am sure you were there, you were able to take footage,if you noticed the close proximity from the wooden structure on the last structure that burned located East, extreme East of the fire area you would notice the extreme close proximity to that other structure and it didn’t suffer fire damage. So it shows that there must have been an extremely good firefight.”

Later after dawn, the affected families with the help of neighbors began clearing the yard from charred debris.

Adan Aguilar – Fire Victim

Well it’s a horrible experience because when you see fire you can only try to do what you can do and when you see your house burning down, that hurts a lot because you know you work hard to get a little something and it goes down in flames in front of you. That is really hard.”

Dalila Ical, Love News.