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