Around 1:30am on Sunday, July 31st, The San Pedro Sun received a call that a fire was blazing in the Airstrip Area, on Chicken Street.
Word was that Neri’s Tacos, a popular Mom & Pop eatery was ablaze. While there is no official word, at the time of posting, the fire continues to rage, consuming neighboring wooden buildings, and threatening to spread to other buildings in the block.
Brave women and a few men have lined to the lagoon to create a “Bucket Brigade” to try and assist the taxed San Pedro Fire Department as they work tirelessly to contain the fire, and keep it from spreading.
There is no official cause of the fire, but many neighbors fear that propane tanks and more may add fuel before the flames die down. We will keep you posted with any new information that we may receive.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun.
I am writting on behalf of the families that were affected. We are currently trying to organize and help all that we can. Indeed many families were affected and most of them had young kids. They all left their homes with nothing as there was no time to save anything all they have with them now are heavy hearts. Please drop by at El Fogon to offer any help you can. We need groceries, clothes for all ages from days old to over 50yrs men and women, boys and girls, building materials, monetary donations and any other things that you think will be helpful. We are currently holding a few meeting to come up with a plan for a fundraiser so any donations will be greatly appreciated. Many of the families have had to seek shelter with loved ones thankfully, but a few remain homeless. Let us forget about who to blame and let us band together as we always do to help out. You can call Susana Eiley at 662-2121 or Shelley Huber from Mama Vilma home at 651-3533. If you can't call but would like to email, send me a private message on here!
Hi Monica, BC's will be setting up as another drop off point today and Carlo and Alma will be donating 10% of their BBQ profits to the cause. Let's try to talk later today or tomorrow so we can bring these efforts together. I understand Kristian Guerrero is also offering to pick up donations from those who are unable to get out today. I will call you this afternoon.
TMM will be setting up a table outside the offfice to receive boxed or bagged clothing and non-perishable food items from 8am to 4pm Monday through Thursday of this week for those who cannot make it to BC's today. TMM is located South of Tropic Air in front of The Palms. No cash donations please.
A huge Fire destroyed half of my neighbourhood on Chicken Street, there are about 12 Families that are left with only their clothes on their backs. Children from the age of 1 year to 12 years old, 30 adults. Any assistance with clothes will be greatly appreciated. Please drop at Fogon and will give immediately to the families. Thanks and God Bless
Several families are without their homes today as a large fire gutted a large area of San Pedro Town last night, July 31, 2011. Town residents in the Airstrip Area were awakened about 1:30 a.m. to the calls and screams of neighbors as a fire started in the building known as Neri's Tacos located next to Hakal Kiik and one street behind El Fogon Restaurant. Neri's Tacos is a popular early morning eatery in San Pedro. Firefighters experienced difficulties starting up the fire engine and residents struggled to put out the fire with a bucket brigade. The fire got out of control pretty quick and managed to engulf at least three homes in the block and completly destroy the property of at least 10 families who today remain homeless. Sources tell Ambergris Today that the fire started in the rear building of Neri's Taco, presumably the kitchen. It is not know what was the cause of the fire, but the Fire Department is conducting an investigation into the matter. Residents were clearly frustrated at the response of the San Pedro Fire Department as there was little residents could do to extinguish the fire that quickly got out of control and spread to neighboring buildings. No fatalites or injuries have been recorded up to now.
Children affected by the fire are between the ages of 5 to 10. Residents are already working on collecting clothes and basic necessities for the famiies affected. If you can help please pass by El Fogon Restaurant (today Sunday, July 31, 2011) to render your assistance. The familes affected need our help.
SEVERAL HOMES DESTROYED BY FIRE IN SAN PEDRO LOVEFM
A fire in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye in the early hours of Sunday morning has left a number of people homeless.
Maria Novelo reporting… “Twelve hours after an early morning fire ripped through five structures at the corner of Chicken and Tarpon Streets in the airstrip area of San Pedro Town, over two dozen people watched the smoldering embers of their possessions. The blaze erupted shortly before one on Sunday morning while the neighborhood residents were fast asleep.
Neri Madera – Homeowner “My little brother came up and said wake up your husband because there is fire. We came down the steps and he opened the salon and they opened all the windows. By that time I think the fire engine could have saved it, they took like an hour to get here.”
Maria Novelo - Reporter Where did the fire start?
Neri Madera – Homeowner "From inside; the fire started from the back.”
The crackling noises grew louder as the fire spread rapidly into the other structures.
Patty Arceo – Neighbor “What woke me up was broken bottles, I thought there was a fight in front of the neighbor and so I went outside and then I saw the neighbors with their children shouting fire, fire, fire and so I came back home and picked up my five year old and we started to run back and forth and later on I took her to my sister’s house. I came back here to give assistance to the neighbors because they are all my neighbors, we all grew up here and then my cousin Ines Sutherland was there with her kids, Nery was here with about nine families, Amancy is back there with all her young kids and we have other businesses back here. Later on about 15 minutes later the fire truck comes in but unfortunately by the time they rolled up the hose, and the water and then later on no water pressure, it was a problem.”
And while the response time from the fire officials seemed sluggish, authorities were down to one man at one point. Shortly after, other off-duty fire volunteers joined in to fight the massive flames. The structure and walls of the homes were literally disintegrated by the intense flames, leaving nine families displaced.
Neri Madera – Homeowner “I have my three families, my daughter and my two sons with their families, I have three rooms that I rent downstairs and my little brother who stays in the salon.”
When the occupants of the homes rushed out, and the fire kept consuming the structures, neighborhood residents formed bucket brigades to deter the inferno from consuming other nearby structures.
Patty Arceo – Neighbor “Around the corner people started to shout because the fire started to go behind the other houses because there is a lot of family homes back here in the form of rooms but there was a group of ladies that were coming from a party and they formed a bucket brigade and they managed to save all the back neighborhood. We had two fire trucks, when one was working the other was giving trouble and when the other one was working the other was giving trouble; it definitely could have been worse. In a fire, seconds looks like hours because it is imperative that you control each and every second.”
The blaze ripped through the neighborhood like a wild fire, in close proximity to the home of Area Representative Manuel Heredia Junior. Heredia expressed his concern on the response time and pledged to take the matter to cabinet so as to equip the department with more human resources.
Manuel Heredia – Area Representative “To my understanding it has to be, I don’t know if it a lack of training because I see them almost every evening going to do training, I see the vehicles running. When they came they were running good. What is the problem that they cannot get the fire under control fast is a question that needs to be addressed and definitely as the area representative of this island and this time it was right close to my doors, I feel that we need to look at what is happening because every time that a fire has happened in San Pedro that these types of things occur.”
Luckily, no one was injured, but painful to watch as the displaced families searched through the charred remains of what once was their home. Meanwhile, the community has been providing the families with assistance.
Patty Arceo – Neighbor “We are asking the community of San Pedro to come and assist, we are starting a fundraising at Fugon’s to come and bring clothes that are usable that we can give to these families because they only came out with the shirt on their backs.” It is my intention to talk to the owner of the radio station and see how we can organize a radio thon. It has been done every time that we have had a fire and the response has been tremendous. Tomorrow I will speak with NEMO headquarters to see what can be done to alleviate the needs of these people.”
The families estimate a total loss of around three hundred thousand dollars and their buildings were not insured. The origin of the fire started from the kitchen area, and it is believed to have been due to an electrical short.
Edited by Marty (08/01/1108:04 PM) Edit Reason: add LOVEfM story
During the fire that tore through buildings in our community, I witnessed something heart-wrenching. There were women and men whose entire livelihood, home, memories, everything – got wiped out. There were firefighters fighting a losing battle, and the place was jam-packed with gawkers’ vehicles, and people four-, five-, six- deep, all staring, taking pictures and video with their advanced technological gear. I also saw a few brave souls who were obviously torn away from their revelry, yet gave no thought to their fancy clothes. High heels were kicked off, and one woman in particular begged and pleaded with the gathered crowd to find buckets and other empty containers to help create a “bucket brigade”.
Part of my job requires witnessing events that change lives – and it also affords me a glimpse into the humanity that I am surrounded with. There were, of the hundreds who turned up to gawk , a small handful of those willing to help. When the call for help sounded, over and over again, the young, able-bodied men who all too often fulfill the stereotype of “lazy, good for nothing bums – land sharks”, simply responded with “What you gonna pay me with?” In the end, it was mostly women who provided the muscle.
There is no doubt that we have strong, independent women who have the muscle to carry on, doing the jobs of both men and women. This is of course, not in any way intended to insult the male reader – but watching the townsmen standing around as women hauled buckets full of water, one after the other, with only a few males attempting to help, put things in perspective. So many men stood to the side and gawked at the fire, eyes hungry for disaster, greedy for the first glimpse of true tragedy. No matter that there were so many people homeless, babies, mommies, daddies - without a roof over their heads, and no idea where to turn to in the next few days, weeks, months.
The behavior I witnessed is a sad indicator of the societal structure of our communities. It seems that the muscle is put to use when overpowering, abusing and taking advantage – but when it counts, there is none to be found.
The day after the disaster, I jumped into a random cab heading home – for, after all, life goes on – and duty calls. I clambered into the front seat, chattering about where I needed to go and explaining the stops I needed to go. My cab driver listened, and when it seemed I was done with my yakking, he smiled and said, “Good Afternoon by the way.”
Startled, I said, “Oh, I am so sorry, I didn’t even realize I hadn’t greeted you. Good Afternoon.” We spent the rest of the drive home talking about the values we were raised with. Of course, I was taught better, and I often do my best to apply my manners on an every day basis. My driver’s gentle reminder - and the ensuing conversation that included talking about helping out each other, in any way possible, and looking out for the helpless, truly came at a time when I was battling my anger about the behavior I had witnessed.
I felt ashamed that I prioritized my work, rushing to get information out there to the world, instead of staying behind and doing something - anything. I felt angry that the majority of the people I saw out ogling someone else’s disaster didn’t apply the values that they had to have been raised on. I also wondered if they had any responsibility instilled in them. Today, as they gawk at the rubble, do they feel any guilt, or twinges of conscience? Or is it that things have become so hard for everyone that it’s a dog eat dog world for the majority. I hope not. I think we all know that the San Pedro town we live in is not the San Pedro town of old. And it will never return to the old ways. But the few brave men, and the numerous brave women who pitched in – I hope you instill your bravery and generosity of spirit to your children, younger siblings, and friends. Those whose homes were saved from the hungry flames have you to thank for helping. Those who lost everything, but are seeing the outpouring of help from so many in the aftermath will eventually re-establish their lives. It will never be the same, but life will go on. For those who refused to help, in the face of such desperate need, the common saying in this town is “Today it is them. Tomorrow it could be you.”
I witnessed the womens Bucket Brigade and It brought me to tears! Several of my family members were displaced by this tragedy and a lucky few were saved by a hair. Tia Chocolate is so right in expressing her views this way. we have many great men on the island but for some reason when we needed them they were not there...the ones that were at the scene could not man up so the women did it for them. One very special woman took hold of the fire hose and fought the fire like a man, not to protect her home but to try to protect the other homes that ere threatened by the fire. Patty Arceo was asked countless times by family members to get out and she refused to leave her neighborhood and watch it all go up in smoke. 6 Buildings were not able to be saved but because of the strong women of our island a countless others were. Ladies of the bucket brigade and Patty, we thank you so very much for saving homes and lives.
As family members sift through the remains of their charred homes, the community of San Pedro rallied in their support. The call was placed to bring clothing and other essentials to the devastated neighborhood and the community responded with heartfelt generosity. Bags of clothing were left at El Fogon where volunteers distributed them to the families in need. Other collection sites included BC’s Bar and Mr. Joe’s. For more information about how you can assist please contact Ms. Monica Prevett 665-0611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos
It is indeed a tragedy that occurred over the weekend, where many residents of San Pedro lost their homes during an early morning fire that could have gutted an entire block in the Airstrip Area. Popular eatery, Neri’s Tacos along with five other buildings went up in flames. Efforts now commence to assist those who lost all their belongings.
The San Pedro Fire Department told Ambergris Today that it received information from the San Pedro Police Department about the blaze at 1:40 a.m. on Sunday, July 31. According to Fire Chief Jerome Garcia, at the time of the call there was only a temporary fire fighter on duty at the San Pedro Fire Station along with two volunteer fire fighters. Garcia explained that by the time they arrived to the scene the building was already engulfed by fire. The water supply of the fire truck (approx. 450 gallons of water) was quickly used but was no match for the huge blaze.
Mr. Garcia then explained that an off duty fire fighter heard about the fire and went to pick up the second fire truck and parked it by the Boat Yard, approximately 1,200 feet away to pump water from the lagoon to the fire truck at the sight of the fire.
According to Garcia this is what caused the delay for them to fight the fire since they had to connect all the hoses from one truck to another. He also explained that they had to do this as the nearby fire hydrant did not suffice to fight this huge fire.
Investigations revealed that the fire started at the kitchen at Neri’s Tacos Place and it started on the refrigerator presumably by an electrical fault. A total of five buildings that housed about 12 families were destroyed in two lots. None of the buildings were insured and no injuries or fatalities were reported.
Frustrated Residents Residents, especially neighbors of Neri’s Tacos, were clearly frustrated with the Fire Department and the San Pedro Police. Ambergris Today was told (and witnessed) accounts where individuals attempted to help the fire fighters and tried to organize a bucket brigade, but were pushed back by some of the police officers. What most could only do was watch as the firefighters attempted to get the second fire truck running and not being able to assist. The hoses were laid on the street and it took about 20 to 30 minutes for the firefighters to get the water running.
Island residents are indeed expressing their frustrations and shortcomings of the San Pedro Fire Department and their plea is that it gets much more needed professional firefighters, equipment and resources.
Fund Raising Efforts A fundraiser drive was held on Sunday, July 31, at El Fogon Restaurants where clothes for women and children were collected, including some bed sheets, blankets and other food items. Presently clothes for men (young men and older 50+) is needed as well as any other kind assistance. The management and friends at El Fogon are not accepting any monetary donations. Currently, there are a few groups organizing fundraising events (including a radioton) which include the Reef Radio/Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. and the San Pedro Lions Club. Ambergris Today will keep you updated on the fundraising events shortly.
TMM Assistance TMM will be setting up a table outside the office to receive boxed or bagged clothing and non-perishable food items from 8a.m. to 4p.m. Monday through Thursday of this week. TMM is located South of Tropic Air in front of The Palms. No cash donations please.