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#519315 - 11/27/16 02:01 PM Sad news: Chateau Caribbean burned down
Short Offline
This morning, there was a big fire at Chateau Caribbean.
I just received confirmation that the beautiful waterfront colonial building is completely destroyed.

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#519316 - 11/27/16 04:15 PM Re: Sad news: Chateau Caribbean burned down [Re: Short]
Amanda Syme Offline
This used to be the best place in Belize to get a t-bone steak meal back in the late 70's/early 80's. It is truly a historical landmark. This is a real shame.

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#519322 - 11/28/16 05:55 AM Chateau Caribbean destroyed by fire
Marty Offline

A fire has destroyed the Chateau Caribbean in Belize City.

The blaze started at around 8:30 this morning on the second floor and quickly spread to the first floor. No one was hurt and fire fighters are still on the scene fighting the blaze.

Reports are that the fire started from the kitchen.

From a friend....

This is so sad. I have very fond memories of this place, it was in June 1979 that I first met my then to be future wife, it was known as Zorba the Greeks back then, I was there during the filming of the Dogs of War as well later on the same tour of Belize.


It was definitely past it's grand old days but it was one of the few cool old colonial buildings. And a decent, not too expensive place to stay on the water in Belize City. Nice people, too. The Chateau is next door to the Radisson Fort George Hotel.

The old wooden building reportedly became ablaze in the kitchen. It quickly spread from there. Someone at the site says "Fire crews keep bring new trucks with more water...Guests had to be quickly evacuated from breakfast." The building and its staircase was featured in a scene in the Christopher Walken Movie "Dogs of War."

The building was first used to house Holden Memorial Hospital. I recall my mother saying I was born somewhere between the kitchen and the bathroom. Perhaps that's why I liked long showers and good food.

Video

Video2





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#519338 - 11/28/16 12:22 PM Re: Chateau Caribbean destroyed by fire [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Charred Chateau Caribbean: the morning after

Pics courtesy of Gordon Kirkwood.




Here is a bit of Chateau Caribbean history via Museum of Belize

The Chateau Caribbean, a beautiful historic building suffered devastating loss this Sunday as a fire engulfed the building. This beautiful building was built in the early 1900's. It was 100% built by Canadian Ceder. It was built and assembled in Canada, then dismantled, shipped to Belize, and reassembled in the spot where it was until yesterday. It was owned by the Biddle family and was the most expensive home built of its time. It survived the Hurricanes of 1931 and 1961. It later became known as the Holden Memorial Hospital under the care of Dr McCleary. This building was truly a magnificent home and a tremendous loss to our historical heritage.





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#519354 - 11/29/16 06:17 AM Re: Chateau Caribbean destroyed by fire [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Belize City Landmark Destroyed

The iconic Chateau Caribbean is no more! A Sunday morning blaze destroyed the 3-story building on Fort Street in Belize City. The fire started upstairs and quickly spread throughout the entire structure. The fire department says they did their best to put out the fire but it wasn't enough against the powerful flames which burst out of windows on all sides of the massive building. So what was once a lovely seafront view is now just a stack of blackened remains. It is a major blow to the owner and also the community. I found out more today.

Juan Nunez, Driver & Security Guard
"I was at home sleeping when one of the co-workers came to call me and told me it was burning and I just came to assist, I just came over but I can't do nothing else you know."

Courtney Weatherburne reporting
And with that hopelessness, Nunez stared at the charred remains of what was once his workplace for 3 years.

The flames erupted at the Chateau Caribbean after 8:00 yesterday morning. It was a normal work day but according to an employee something went terribly wrong in the kitchen.

Voice of: Co-worker
"When I was coming from over there I saw smoke on top, so I said, it looks like work is on fire, so I ran over and I met another co-worker and I asked what happened and she said the fire started upstairs so I ran upstairs and asked if there are any guests in the rooms and she said I don't know, but I remembered that 3 rooms had in guests so then I saw the guests coming down and we all ran out and then we saw Mr. Lo going upstairs and then we shouted for him and he came down and by that time the entire top part was on fire already."

Courtney Weatherburne, 7News
"The guests were not in their rooms, they were downstairs eating breakfast?"

Voice of: Employee
"Upstairs in the dining, one couple and then the other couple was in their room so I guess they must have heard what was happening so I just saw them coming downstairs with their bags."

"Based on what I heard it started in the kitchen so I don't know what happened or how it started in the kitchen but they said it is in the kitchen it started."

Courtney Weatherburne
"Were people in there actually cooking?"

Voice of: Employee
"Yes because some people who came in from 6:00, they usually come in that time to start breakfast."

But at this point the Fire chief can't confirm precisely where the fire started.

Ted Smith, Fire Chief
"On arrival, the upper section of a 3 story structure was engulfed in flames, the fire department immediately went into operations and tried to extinguish the fire."

Courtney Weatherburne
"We understand the fire started in the kitchen can you confirm that?"

Ted Smith, Fire Chief
"Not at this time, the investigation is in its preliminary stage and I do not want to pre judge the outcome of the investigation."

But while the fire department continues their investigation, these employees have to scramble for a job to at least hold them over for Christmas

Voice of: Employee
"Everybody feel bad because Christmas season is here and we lost our job , some of us do not have help and it is only us working , it is really sad."

But a workplace isn't the only thing that was lost in the fire, a piece of Belizean history also went up in these flames.

Before it became Chateau Caribbean Hotel, this building was the first private hospital in Belize. It was called the Holden Memorial hospital and it was founded by Dr. McCleary in 1957. Later on, it became Chateau Caribbean Hotel and Restaurant in the early 1980's, well known for their steak.

The building was centrally featured in a the first movie made in Belize, "Dogs of War" - which was shot in 1980. It used the quaint colonial styling of the Chateau as the hotel of choice for the film's lead character, played by Chris Walken.

And so while the building is gone, it's place in history as secure.

As you heard there were 2 couples in the building at the time of the fire but they got away unharmed. So far, only a fire fighter was cut to his arm as he was putting out the fire. The fire chief told us it took 15 hours to extinguish the fire and they had to get water from the sea as well. One employee told us that just last week there was a minor electrical fire at the hotel. We tried to contact the owner but, a relative told us he was busy dealing with insurance and other pressing matters. We will keep following up on the story.

Channel 7


Iconic Chateau Caribbean “Gone” in Sunday Blaze

One of the oldest buildings in the Old Capital was consumed by fire on Sunday morning. Thick smoke billowed into the sky and was visible from a distance away as residents came out in numbers and watched in disbelief as a fire swept through the wooden structure of the historic colonial building. Hours later, only the rubble remained of the restaurant owned by the Liu’s. The building had particular significance to the city; it was a former hospital, the Holden Memorial where many received treatment.  After its closure in1977, it became a restaurant and hotel which thrived for decades and was recognized for the consistently scrumptious food.  Today, News Five’s Isani Cayetano traced the history of the iconic building that once stood in front of the Caribbean Sea on the Fort George. Here is his report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Built in the early Twentieth Century, shipped to British Honduras from Canada, reassembled at this prime seafront location in the Fort George neighborhood and stood as an iconic landmark in the Old Capital, the Chateau Caribbean is no more.  The upper flat of the concrete and wooden structure, built entirely from cedar, went up in smoke on Sunday morning.

Jim Scott, General Manager, Radisson Hotel

“I was just outside and I smelled the smoke and when I looked up I smelled just smoke, no flames.  I walked out on the street and I saw Mr. Lou and his staff doing what they needed to do and I immediately woke up my neighbor and got them out and we moved the vehicles and then kind of got the Radisson prepared.  And by this time now you can hear the sirens from the fire department.”

At the scene of the inferno, the responding firemen observed that the edifice was being consumed rather quickly.  The symbolic timber construction had survived both the hurricanes of 1931 and 1961, before being named the Holden Memorial Hospital.  Time was not in favor of the fire department.

Ted Smith, Fire Chief, National Fire Service

“On arrival, the upper section, the upstairs section of the three-storey structure was engulfed in flames.  The fire department immediately went into operations and tried to extinguish the fire.  As well, our Exercise Fireball was put in place and off-duty personnel were called out to the scene so that we can effectively control and extinguish the fire.”

Varying accounts suggest that personnel from the National Fire Service, notwithstanding specific constraints on the ground, did their best to save the building.

Jim Scott

“They worked very, very hard, the fire department; but, however you look at it, it was really, really unfortunate for Mr. and Mrs. Lou because that was truly the greatest loss because they were the owners and as tourism colleagues in the industry for many, many years, it was an institution, that building.  And of course, before tourism there was another institution there, and I think the Chateau Caribbean was one of the oldest buildings, was one of the oldest buildings in Belize City.”

At the time of its assembly in the early Nineteen Hundreds, the building was owned by the Biddle family and was appraised as the most expensive home built during that era.  The elderly Asian couple who later owned the property has not only lost a lifelong investment, but Belize City has also lost a significant part of its colonial patrimony.

Ted Smith

“The investigation is in its preliminary stage.  I have no information about what cause the fire from the investigators [and] I will allow them to do their work and then I will be able to say, based on the information from them, what may have caused the fire.  At this time I do not know.”

Jim Scott, the general manager of the adjacent hotel and a next door neighbor, quickly summoned his staff at the Radisson and plans were set in motion to safeguard their building.

Jim Scott

“We had to mitigate as much risk as we could for the residents, where I live and of course the Radisson Fort George.  The breeze was coming out of the north, northwest.  It shifted a little bit here and there, it created a ton of ash, hot flaming embers that were kind of being dispersed on the eastern front of the Radisson, by the pool and the Stone Grill.  So, you know, we had a lot of staff, we called a lot of people who were at home on that Sunday and just trying to mitigate risk.  Fortunately, there’s been a lot of rain in the city lately so rooftops were wet and our thatched roof and stuff, we were putting hoses up there on the roof.  But it was really an unfortunate situation for all of us as neighbors.  Mr. and Mrs. Lou, all the staff who worked there for so many years.”

Some of those employees, we understand, have been there since 1986.  The historic location also appeared in the 1980 film Dogs of War, starring Christopher Walken.  More recently it was featured as part of the Downtown Rejuvenation Project.  The contention in the wake of the disaster is the timeliness of the fire department’s response.

Ted Smith

“To be fair it took firefighters almost fifteen hours to extinguish the fire, I don’t know where you get two hours from.  Our last team came in almost midnight from that scene with all these hotspots.  Fires are easy to start but not easily controlled.  I am sure from the footage I am seeing so far that thousands of gallons of water from both two units was being discharged consistently and the flame continued to burn vigorously and it’s just the type of fuel load, the type of structure and the fuel load.  It’s a huge wooden structure, a three-storey which is used in some areas as hotel where there was a lot of Class A material to sustain a fire, to sustain a tremendous burning of fire.”

Jim Scott

“There were a few technical glitches here and there with the fire equipment.  I’m sure some of those lads they wish they had some new stuff but, you know, it’s like when the Paslow Building went up, you know, there’s only so much you could contain and I think those guys know their business better than me but you’re not just trying to contain a fire but you’re also trying to mitigate risk of other people’s businesses and residences.  So they really jammed. They really jammed.”



Channel 5


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#519390 - 11/30/16 06:39 AM Re: Chateau Caribbean destroyed by fire [Re: Short]
Marty Offline

Still No Clues In Chateau Fire

Tonight, the Fire Department is no closer to determining the cause of the fire that claimed a Belize City landmark, the Chateau Caribbean. Fire Chief Ted Smith told us this evening that they still don't know the cause, but that the investigators worked at the scene looking for clues.

As we reported, on Sunday morning at around 8:00, a fire started at the back of the building, reportedly in the kitchen. At the time about 8 persons were in the building, and police had to get out one last man who was packing up - even as the building was filling up with smoke. Staff and two sets of guests escaped unharmed, and the only injury was to a fireman who cut his arm.

It is a total loss for the longtime owner, Mr. Lo, who has declined comment. He lived at the hotel and lost all his personal possessions and his business.

The elegant, colonial style sea front building was first erected in 1927 as the Biddle home. It later became Belize's first private hospital, and then a hotel and restaurant.

Channel 7


Employees Try to Pick Up Pieces from Devastating Chateau Caribbean Fire

Employees of the Chateau Caribbean are picking up the pieces in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed the iconic restaurant. While most people are preparing for the Christmas, scores of employees have been left jobless. Official investigations are ongoing, but a long-serving employee of the Chateau provides gripping details of what went awfully wrong on Sunday morning when a fire broke in the kitchen and demolished the landmark establishment. Maria Villanueva was in the kitchen prepping for a catering when the fire erupted. She also believes that the fire department was slow in responding. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Maria Villanueva is one of forty-five employees at the Chateau Caribbean Hotel.  Tonight, she is out of work, following a devastating fire that eviscerated the historic colonial building on Sunday.  As head chef, Villanueva’s primary responsibility is to oversee the preparation of food.  That morning, the kitchen was very busy.

Maria Villanueva, Head Chef, Chateau Caribbean Hotel

“We had a catering to go for 11:45.  I done boil my noodles, I done about to boil my vegetables for the noodles.  The other girls were putting the… We have sweet and sour chicken.  We have Chateau beef.  We have fish in lemon garlic.  We have… what else?  Five items, oh the egg rolls.  We have that and the blueberry pie and the key lime pie.  We done have that, everything ready and then… While I turn to get vegetables, I only hear the long noise, then I heard boom.  So I spun around and asked my coworker what is that?”

…and just like that the ceiling inside the kitchen was on fire.  Neither Maria nor the staff working with her took notice at first.

Maria Villanueva

“When we looked up, I tell ahn gyal wahn fyah and we sih di ceiling engulfed in fyah.  Da dah corner [right deh] di corner where we prepare di meat and soh fi chop.  Da right there di flame start.  But then ih look like dat done engulf eena di ceiling and we noh know.  Maybe di smoke mi di come up but we don’t see it.  Da when da mussi di pressure ah di fyah mek di ceiling drop down and we couldn’t, we try, we try wi best.  We tried the extinguisher.  She had one, I had one and the other girl had one.  We couldn’t save it.”

Neither could the fire department.  Admittedly, Fire Chief Ted Smith recognized the intensity of the conflagration, as well as a number of setbacks that his men had to overcome in fighting the fire.

Ted Smith, Fire Chief, National Fire Service

“It was quite a fire.  There will always be challenges because we play catch up.”

While there has been mixed feedback from those present at the scene of the blaze, complete destruction of the twentieth century architecture is being attributed to tardy response on the part of the National Fire Service.  According to Villanueva, firemen did not spring into action until about an hour after arriving on the scene.

Maria Villanueva

“This is poor, poor, poor work for the fire department.  Dehn tek like one hour fi try out di fire, dat time di fire done destroy the building.  Dat time dehn coulda mi save this ova da part, di cement part.  Dehn didn’t do it because dehn run out of wata.  Dehn don’t have any wata at all and di sea is right.”

In spite of an additional thirty recruits officially joining the fold last Wednesday, the National Fire Service is, itself, constantly under fire and seemingly leaves a lot to be desired.

Ted Smith

“You saw consistently a constant flow of water, tens of thousands of gallons of water thrown into that fire to bring that fire under control.  We do not have a perfect National Fire Service but we have a fire service that is dedicated and tried its very best and I am sure you can see some of that from the footage that was taken out there.”

The complement of employees at Chateau Caribbean has been rendered jobless.  Villanueva has been working here for the past twenty-eight years.

Maria Villanueva

“I love my work and I love my job and I love the way how my boss dehn treat all the staff.  We have wahn nice boss and he treat we to di best ah ih ability.  We noh have no problem with them and whenever we want help or something he willing to help we.  And for we gaan through this, this da like wahn disaster for we because all of us are single mothers who work here and Mrs. Lou she is the one weh help we and told we dat we da single mothers.  She tried to help us.  She’s a mother and she’s a boss and she is everything to we. We couldn’t save it.  We couldn’t.  All weh we coulda do we tell dehn unu let’s go and we get outta here and save fu we life.  Then Mr. Lou was running back upstairs in the fire and we tell ahn Mr. Lou you cannot go anymore in there.  It’s dangerous, the ceiling wahn collapse.  Then I look round fu Mrs. Lou and I cohn get ahn outta di store room and I bring ahn out pan di street.  One suit a clothes, dehn noh have anything, couldn’t salvage anything.  Everything destroyed in the fire.”

Isani Cayetano

“Were there any guests occupying any of the rooms at the time?”

Maria Villanueva

“Three rooms.  Three rooms at that time, but dehn come out with dehn luggage, everything.  We neva mek dehn get hurt eena di fyah.  We mek sure dehn tek dehn out.”

Channel 5


Landmark building, Chateau Caribbean Hotel, destroyed by fire

The Chateau Caribbean Hotel, one of the old capital’s landmark buildings, which was built in 1927 and was a favorite hotel and restaurant which has seen many glory days, including the filming of an action movie Dogs of War, was destroyed by a huge fire which began about 7:30 this morning, Sunday, November 27.

Even up to 3:30 this afternoon, smoke was still rising from the burnt remains of the building. The flames were completely put out at about 9:30 tonight, about 14 hours after fire engulfed the iconic landmark.

The elegant Chateau Caribbean Hotel, made of timber and concrete, was located in the Fort George area, at the corner of Marine Parade and South Park Street.

The fire reportedly began in the kitchen of the establishment. It quickly spread from there to the other parts of the building. The guests of the hotel were safely evacuated and the Belize City Fire Service went to the scene and commenced its attempts to put out the flames that had engulfed the building.

On our arrival on the scene, at about 9:00 this morning, thick smoke and flames were coming out of the roof of the building and firefighters from four fire trucks did their best to put out the fire.

A fireman told us that they could not gain entry into the building, and had to just spray water into the building from the outside.

While we were watching, a fireman who was on the verandah of the third floor of the hotel managed to remove a burglar bar from one of the windows, which gave them access through that window to spray water into the building. At the same time, two more firemen on the truck’s ladder used tools to remove the burglar bar from another window to also gain entry.

During an interview with the media this evening at the National Fire Service headquarters, Fire Chief Ted Smith said that that there were challenges.

Firstly, the firemen were exhausted after battling a fire at West Collet Canal which erupted about 1:40 Sunday morning and was put out at about 4:30 that morning.

After putting out the fire, the firefighters returned to base and while they were cleaning up and putting tools and equipment in order, they received another fire call at about 8:30, this time at the Chateau Caribbean Hotel. On their arrival, they saw the building engulfed in flames. He said that they responded immediately, and within 5 minutes they were on the scene, but he still does not know why the Fire Service was not called earlier.

Smith said that from his house, he had seen thick black smoke from about 8:00 that morning. The fire was burning prior to the smoke being seen, and was well underway when the Fire Service was called.

Chief Smith said that they responded with 3 shifts of firefighters and 4 trucks. However, the firefighters working on the shift that would have been done on Saturday night could not leave, and they went onto the Chateau Caribbean Hotel fire scene and battled that fire throughout the day.

He said that the firemen were so exhausted that one of them fell and one of them sustained an injury to his hand, because he was not wearing his protective suit when he smashed a glass window.

Chief Smith said that among the challenges in putting out the fire at the hotel was the fact that the firemen could not enter the building because the flooring had collapsed.

The police and fire investigators have begun an investigation into the cause of the massive fire.

The Chateau Caribbean was a premier hotel and restaurant which was featured on Trip Advisor and given high ratings. It was also featured on many other hotels directories and magazines.

We were told by a long-time resident of the area that the building was constructed in 1927 by a German immigrant, Mr. Brittles, and his family. He later sold the building to a physician known as Dr. McCleary, who turned it into a hospital and named it the Holden Memorial Hospital to honor the men who died in World War 2.

A piece of history has now been destroyed.

Amandala


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#519475 - 12/03/16 06:17 AM Re: Chateau Caribbean destroyed by fire [Re: Short]
Marty Offline

Arson, electrical causes out in Chateau Caribbean fire as B.T.I.A. sympathizes

While National Fire Service officials promised full details on Monday of its ongoing investigation, News Five has been told that arson and electrical causes have been ruled out in the fire that consumed the Chateau Caribbean Hotel on Sunday morning. An employee told News Five earlier this week that the fire started in the kitchen while they were preparing for a catering. The long-established hotel turned restaurant, a landmark of the Fort George Tourism Zone, carried an insurance policy, according to fire investigators. The loss of the Chateau creates a hole in the Belize City brand that will be difficult to replace, at least for now. On Thursday, President of the Belize Tourism Industry Association, Osmany Salas, whose office building sits on the other side of Memorial Park from the Chateau, expressed his sadness at the loss of this tourism icon.

Osmany Salas, President, B.T.I.A.

“I think, like many Belizeans who were on social media, I heard the news on Facebook last Sunday; I was shocked and saddened. The Chateau Caribbean – it was a hotel, but it was also a restaurant; it was an institution, to me almost a historical monument because of how long it has been around. So it was always a landmark in Belize City, in that area of Memorial Park; neighbours to the B.T.I.A., that is where our head office is located. So when I saw that I was very sad; I feel for the owners, for the Los, and for the staff, because I understand it’s not recoverable, it’s a lost business and there will be many families that will be directly affected as a result. So I wish them well, it will take a whole lot; I mean, they were not members of the B.T.I.A., but they were neighbors, they were stakeholders, and I wish them the very best.”

Channel 5


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