The Fire Department headed to the Northern Highway around five thirty this morning after they received frantic calls from various persons. Raul’s Rose Garden, the famous brothel, was up in flames. All that was left by the time the flames consumed the interior of the concrete structure, was debris. And if you are wondering, the patrons had left, but the roses were in deep slumber inside building when the fire broke. Fortunately, there was no damage to life or limb. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Patrons of Raul’s Rose Garden are tonight without a place for adult entertainment as the popular brothel near mile eight on the Northern Highway went up in smoke during an early morning fire. The identifiable flower-patterned paint job on its outside had quickly turned the building into a landmark for motorists making their commute to and from the city. The business, on the other hand, was famous for wild parties. But it all came to a fiery end around five a.m. when security personnel Keith McNabb was awakened by the commotion inside.
Keith McNabb, Security, Raul’s Rose Garden
“Everybody was asleep so and like the fire woke up like the first, the occupants closest to the room where the fire started off and it blocked off one of the exits so we had to evacuate everybody through the restroom area and everybody got out safely, you know that’s about it. It started in the middle right here and then it just spread from there throughout the middle part and went to the back. It just flamed up everywhere.”
While McNabb was able to safely evacuate its occupants there was very little that could have been done to extinguish the blaze. Despite efforts from the fire department the building was completely gutted leaving in its wake scattered sheets of zinc everywhere. The plastering on the concrete walls has flaked as a result of the intense heat.
Raul Magana, Proprietor, Raul’s Rose Garden
“I received a call around five o’clock this morning that the place was on fire. I immediately called the police and the police told me that someone [had] already called them so they called the fire engine. When I got here I met the police, I met the fire engine and the rest is history.”
According to McNabb they had only retired a few hours earlier when he heard the frantic screams of his colleagues from an adjacent room.
“At first I thought it was somebody who was inside the place robbing the place [or] sticking up the people but when I opened the door smoke came in so I knew automatically it was a fire. I ran down to the end of the corridor here to down there to check to see who was inside there. It was only like three females and they were locked [up] in this side So I just took them around, opened the entrance right here and let them out.”
What were once beds are now singed lumber. There is debris all over its interior. Businessman Raul Magana Sr. established Rose Garden over thirty years ago and since then it became a premier attraction for those seeking nocturnal delight.
“I opened in February 1981. It wasn’t as big as it is now but that’s when I started.”
“Do you believe that this may have been a case of arson? Do you know if it’s an electrical fire or what the cause of it [was] based on preliminary investigation by the fire authorities?”
“No. We don’t know what caused the fire. We know for sure the fire started in the office area, by the office where we have some of the rooms located. That’s where we saw the smoke and the night time security took everyone out and it just burned as quick as they could think about it.”
Amongst the rubble were two poodle puppies. Inside the metal bucket being carried away here are the charred remains of one. The fire, McNabb believes, may have been the result of an electrical short.
“I guess it was probably one of the wires in some one of the rooms or maybe a fan or something that was left on. I can’t say because the fire prohibited us from looking.”
Luckily for its owner the concrete structure was under financial protection against this particular type of loss.
“Well the building is insured. It’s insured with Home Protectors Insurance but that’s the only insurance I have.”
“Speak to us now on loss to business. How does this affect you in terms of your ability to conduct your business as usual?”
“Well the building is definitely totaled, everything is burnt out. So for me to reinvest in it I have to start from scratch.”
“And an estimated value?”
“It’s valued; the real value is around eight hundred thousand [dollars].”
An investigation into the cause of the fire is being conducted by the National Fire Service. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
According to family members, they intend to rebuild but change the line of business.
Raul’s Rose Garden burns down
Raul’s Rose Garden, one of Belize’s most well-known brothels, caught fire at around 5 a.m. today, and at about 2 hours later, burned to the ground. The Garden, commonly referred to as “Ocho” due to its location at Mile 8 on the Northern Highway, was established about 30 years ago, and reputedly was worth approximately $500,000.
Raul Magaña, the owner and namesake of the establishment, told the media that he received a call at around 5 a.m. that a fire had started in the vicinity of one of the rooms that is near an office in the center of the building.
He said that the establishment had closed at around 3 p.m., so there was no one in the vicinity of the fire to explain why it started. He said that it was the security guard on duty, Keith McNab, who called the Fire Department.
According to Magaña, the firemen arrived about an hour later, but by that time, the blaze had already spread to most of the vulnerable areas. The firemen couldn’t save the building, and as a result, it was completely destroyed.
At this time, police and the Fire Department do not have a definite reason as to the cause of the fire, but the security guard suspects something electrical was the reason.
There was no one injured, but the damage to the building is serious enough that it will need rebuilding. Magaña puts the value of the establishment at around $500,000, and it was ensured with Home Protector Insurance Company. The police have said that while the building was insured, the contents were not.
Magaña has indicated that he may rebuild the establishment, but change the line of business.