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#339873 - 06/02/09 05:40 AM Fire Rips Through Corozal Free Zone
Marty Online   happy

There was a major fire in the Corozal Free Zone last night. It could have been disastrous because six stores were destroyed in the blaze that raged for four hours – all within range of the Zone’s gas depot. But that disaster was averted as fire fighters from both Chetumal and Belize battled the inferno. Keith Swift has the story.

Keith Swift Reporting,
This is amateur video taken of last night’s blaze that engulfed the Macao Plaza in the Free Zone. Between 6 pm and 6:30 last night - the fire broke out in the Forever 21 by Nina Boutique and quickly spread to 5 adjoining stores. Businessman Sunil Khantani shot the footage and he was there before fire fighters arrived.

Sunil Khantani, Businessman
“I saw over there some flames coming from the plaza and they tried to contact the security guard and the security people came and they called the fire fighters also. We got a good help from the Mexican side also. They sent water tanks and well the flames started and was increasing increasing and due to what they had inside, the plastic things and all, it was increasing more and more.”

Keith Swift,
And you were there before the fire engine arrived.

Sunil Khantani,
“Yes I was there before the fire engine.”

Keith Swift,
And it was only one store at that moment?

Sunil Khantani,
“It was only in the one store at that moment. The store Forever 21, it started from there.”

David Ackerman, Chairman – Corozal Free Zone
“It started at Forever, that is to the extreme rear of the plaza, Forever Store. But the other companies that were affected, and this is coming from our security who were first on the scene, they came in with fire extinguishers etc. but the fire was already ignited to that point.”

Wayne Armstrong, Corozal Fire Chief
“The plaza was fully engulfed, the area that we see. That was four or five of them, fully engulfed upstairs. So my people had to work lo break open the shutters and get inside. We had people to the back due to the gas station taking care of that and then you had other stores to the other side of the building that was properly heated up. We got a line in and people were there securing that area. After when we managed to get one of the shutters we noticed that the fire was fully to the back and my people just took care of that.

We knew that a gas station was to the back and so these people made sure that they had a hose line to the back. The Mexicans they came in and they went to the back while we had a crew of people challenging the front. This fire fighting didn’t give us much problem because we had a constant flow of water, we didn’t run out of water and we have some trained people that went inside as close as they could to get this fire out.”

Fire fighters from Belize and Chetumal brought the fire under control within four hours but by then the damage had been done. Six stores were affected with their inventory, mainly clothes and footwear destroyed.

David Ackerman,
“Yes we have six businesses that have been affected by this fire, apartment stores actually because mostly they are one shutter businesses with a warehouse on the top and most of them, like I said, carry textiles – it is clothing and footwear but in the plaza we have things like restaurants and other businesses and like I said to the back there was the gas station and adjacent to that was some warehouses for some Koreans who had just received containers and those were ram-packed and all of that has been saved without any damage to the product so I am very pleased the way it was handled last night.”

Corozal’s fire chief Wayne Amstrong says it is too early to determine a cause and the Free Zone’s Chairman David Ackerman says it is too early to tally the costs.

Wayne Armstrong,
“The investigation will continue and at this moment I have one of my fire trucks out there along with some of the security officers who are trained just to clear certain areas, to mop up the rest of the area.”

David Ackerman,
“At this point I wouldn’t even want to make a guess. It is a private matter in the sense that they are private businesses. I believe within the next 48 hours I could something for the media to know. Like I said, I am not an engineer or an architect to say and I know the insurance companies are coming in and they will have to make some financial assessment as to that part.”

Ackerman says the zone will be enforcing its fire act.

David Ackerman,
“We are going to start within a couple weeks, we are going to start what we call a building inspection. We have to realize that a lot of the buildings in the zone have been built over 12 years. We will start enforcing what we call the Fire Act where by the fire service along with a certified electrical engineer will come and make visitations to these buildings and where wiring is being found not adequate, these companies will be requested to rewire. We want to make sure that we leave no stones so we could avoid any catastrophe in the future.”

Again there has been no official damage estimate but an unofficial figure of a million U.S. dollars and we know for sure that at least 24 workers will be out of a job for the next six months.

Channel 7 News

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#339888 - 06/02/09 02:27 PM Re: Fire Rips Through Corozal Free Zone [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Fire at Corozal Free Zone leaves many jobless

The H1N1 scare had business at a standstill at the Corozal Free Zone and a fire on Sunday evening will put another dent in its commercial activity. It took about 4 hours to contain the raging inferno that destroyed one of the older plazas. The blaze erupted shortly before 7:00 and by the time it was contained, 6 stores were charred and a number of persons have been left unemployed. Neither the cause of the inferno or the estimates of the damages are known, but authorities say it will take another day to determine. Prompt action by the local and Chetumal fire teams and an abundance of water supply prevented the fire from spreading. Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The blaze did not spread beyond the Macal Plaza, but the inferno that raged through that complex from around 6:30 on Sunday evening destroyed the upper flat and caused enough damage to the lower flat to render over 20 employees jobless for at least another month. It reportedly started on the upper flat of Forever Store and put 6 stores out of commission. The blaze was initially cause for concern because of its close proximity to a gas station. And even though fire was raging when the Corozal Fire Service arrived, it was contained soon enough.

David Akierman, Chairman, Corozal Free Zone
“The Fire Service, with the help from the Mexican authorities, had the fire under control. It showed that we didn’t leave here until 6:00 this morning, but the last part of the exercise was the mopping. 95% of the goods that were destroyed are mostly textile and footwear, which are very, very volatile to fire. The fire was contained, both from the north side and the south side, because we had concerns. To the rear of that building we—this plaza neighbours with the Esso Gas Station and that was our concern, but the professionalism that our fire service, along with the Mexicans has exercised, that was managed to be contained and not allowing the fire to expand into other neighbourhoods.”

Raul Rosado, C.E.O., Corozal Free Zone
“The coordination that we have been putting together so as to be prepared for these kinds of incidents has been proven today, that it does work. Besides having the wonderful job that the Fire Department and our security officers did, we also had in place the ambulance from the Corozal hospital that was in the spot should in case we had any other injuries. So the coordination that we have been putting in place has been paying off.”

Wayne Armstrong, Corozal Fire Chief
“We had some people here in the Zone so when we got the call and we came out it was no problem for us. Everybody had already known what role they were supposed to play. We know that a gas station is to the back so these people made sure that they have a hose line to the back. The Mexicans they came in and they went to the back while we had a crew of people challenging the front. This fire fighting didn’t give too much problem because we had a constant flow of water, we didn’t run out of water and we have some trained people that went inside as close as they could to get this fire out.”

Corozal Fire Chief Wayne Armstrong said 2 firemen received minor injuries, but they have been treated and released from the hospital.

Meanwhile, during a news conference today, Corozal Free Zone Chairman, David Akierman said it is time that they start enforcing strict building codes in order to prevent future blazes.

David Akierman
“We’re gonna start within a couple weeks, we’re gonna start what we call a building inspection. We have to understand that a lot of the buildings in the Zone have been built over 12 years. We will enforce, we will start enforcing what we call the Fire Act, whereby the fire service, along with a certified electrical engineer, will come and make visitations to these buildings and where wiring is being found not adequate, these companies will be requested to do new wiring. We want to make sure that we leave no stones unturned so we could avoid any catastrophe in the future.”

Wayne Armstrong says investigations will now begin to determine the exact origin and cause of the fire. Reporting News Five, Marion Ali.

The 6 stores destroyed by the blaze are: Forever Store, Mex Bel, Krizia’s Company, More Company, Kashish Mart, and Lucky Store. We could not reach any of the store owners for their comments and authorities could not offer an estimate of the losses today.

Channel 5

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#339889 - 06/02/09 02:27 PM Re: Fire Rips Through Corozal Free Zone [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
Free Zone Chairman has plans for beautification

The financial crisis is hurting the Corozal Free Zone and recent statistics show there has been a decline in merchandise imports, but this is not slowing the administration of the Zone. Officials told News Five today they have found a way to upgrade the general ambience of the facility. Free Zone Chairman, David Akierman, says that revenue collected in taxes and other charges at the Zone will be used in the upcoming project.

David Akierman, Chairman, Corozal Free Zone
“Last year we did a full topographic survey of the Free Zone, which entailed construction of streets, sidewalks, drains; organization, very needed; development, very needed. This is a trading center, right? And I think too long this place has been abandoned. We’re living in modern times, so what we’re trying to do is uplift the ambience right here. We’re gonna do close to a mile of streets.”

Marion Ali
“New streets?”

David Akierman
“News streets, underground drains. Not the drains that we’re used to seeing, you know in Belize the drains are open; these drains are covered drains. This will consist of organised parking in horizontal and vertical, sidewalks on two sides, drainage and streets and also we’re gonna pave the compound of the administration because we hope by September to October we should have a Health Post within our premises here. These are two major projects that we have—capital projects for 2009. This is a full-funded project by this administration. We are funding this. This project is gonna be invested in the vicinity of BZ$730,000. We generate money one, by the car entrances to the visitors, which we have a fee of about $1.30 per car. That’s one way we generate income. We generate from the annual fees or trade licenses; you know the trade license, we have a trade license here. We generate from that. We generate from the containers coming into the Zone; we charge a fee for the load of containers and we generate revenues too from other services; other services whereby if an investor needs some work to be done, let’s say removal of construction debris, we offer that service. We have utilities that generate money.”

Akierman says the work should take about 4 months to complete, give or take a week or two considering that it’s the rainy season. The contract has been awarded to Traffic Light Company from Puebla, Mexico. The project should create jobs for around 80 Belizeans.

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#341060 - 06/12/09 04:51 PM Re: Fire Rips Through Corozal Free Zone [Re: Marty]
Phil Offline
Should be renamed the Corozal Fire Zone.........

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