Fire engulfed a white Ford Ranger pickup truck shortly after five o’clock yesterday evening and while no one was hurt, first responders and fire personnel averted what could have been a disastrous incident; that is because the fire happened at the Shell Gas Station at the corner of Cemetery Road and Central American Boulevard. 37-year-old, Wenseslao Veliz went to the gas station to refuel his vehicle. He told us what happened. Meanwhile, Station Supervisor at the National Fire Service, Kenneth Mortis, spoke of the threat such an incident posed at a gas station.
Wenseslao Veliz – Pick Up Owner: “ I arrived at the gas station and I turned it off. I told the attendant I want $20 gasoline and he gave me the $20 gasoline, I told him to thank you because he knows me. When I started the vehicle I saw the smoke coming out, when I saw the smoke coming out I told my wife to take my son and my daughter and to get out. I then opened the hood of the vehicle and I saw a big fire, the pump attendant could not even help me out the fire. Do you know that thing that they use to put out fires? The young man got frightened just like I did, we ran away and even the police. There were some police there and they ran too, to be honest, I really don’t know what happened. I simply give thanks to God that we are alive, my kids, my wife, and I. I thought that everything would have exploded, everyone ran away but thank god it didn’t have anything to do with gasoline, it was some sort of electrical short.”
Kenneth Mortis – Station Supervisor: “The vehicle was being driven by thirty-seven-year-old Mr. Veliz of a Belize City address. The vehicle is not his but the owner actually lives in Corozal and from our investigation we learned that the vehicle had a supposed battery flaw whereby the positive had grounded itself out which in term contributed to the cause of the fire, the potential danger could have been a catastrophic one indeed. Fortunately we along with the help of the attendants, I will not take all the credit for that ,the attendance was very helpful in being apart of the first responders so when we got there it was just to do the basic mop up and complete extinguishment of the fire. In the event that worst-case scenario should have played itself out it would have been a catastrophe whereby no doubts civilians would have lost lives in the event, probably would have still been out there picking up the pieces up to this day. The fuel station is situated in a manner whereby the tanks are now stored underground. What I like about the new system is there is a shut off switch right at the value of each of the dispensers so it allows a few minutes before excessive heat could have caused damage to those pump dispensers but as you said in the event that if it was a worse case scenario we would have probably still been out there picking up the pieces.”
Mortis says that he was concerned about the number of onlookers who lingered dangerously close to the scene of the incident. He issued a warning against this.
Kenneth Mortis – Station Supervisor: “The general public just has to remember that when there is a fire it is not every fire you want to run into. I saw the footage on social media and I myself was a bit surprised that the public and the bystanders were allowed in such a close proximity to the location of the vehicle taking into consideration that it was not a structural fire. This is a gas station we are talking about so I am hoping that in the event that something like this does happen which I would never want to happen again the public can be aware and mind conscious that it is not something to run into for social media’s sake.”
Veliz’s vehicle was completely destroyed by the fire. He says it was insured.