Fire ravages hurricane victims' shelter

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 41            November 9, 2000

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The second floor of the temporary shelter was extensively damaged by fire

From bad to worse, so the saying goes. Last Thursday, some residents of San Pedro received another fright as a fire threatened their lives and belongings. These people, homeless since the last natural disaster, unfortunately experienced more trauma as a fire engulfed the second floor of their temporary shelter. The residents managed to escape unhurt, but the upstairs of the building and its contents on Barrier Reef Drive were severely destroyed.

    According to San Pedro Fire Chief Denice Plummer, he received a telephone call about 5:20 p.m. although a first truck had already been dispatched to the site after firemen witnessed smoke in the vicinity. Fire Chief Plummer says that he is grateful to the people who tried to help but suggests that before assisting firemen with their equipment they should check with the fireman in charge. He commented, "I would like to thank the people who assisted us but want to emphasize that in the case of a fire only selected help is needed. Mr. Plummer also reminds people who want to volunteer, that training sessions are held every Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Anyone attending the training will get a clear idea of the plan of attack when a fire threatens.

    He confirmed the cause of the fire was a faulty connection on a butane tank which was located inside the building where three different groups of people were staying. Because of quick response from the San Pedro Fire Department and its volunteers, the fire was kept from spreading to neighboring houses and the downstairs portion of the building was also saved.

    A report from the San Pedro Police Department states: At about 5:20 p.m. on November 2nd, 2000, police responded to a fire on Barrier Reef Drive, San Pedro Town where a two-storey concrete building was seen engulfed by fire. Investigations revealed that at about 5:15 p.m. on that same day, one Ernest Billary, 27, Belizean woodcarver of the above address, was in the middle upper flat cooking some food when he observed the rubber hose had a small leakage. There was then a small blaze and the fire started to spread quickly. A few minutes later the gas tank exploded causing a blaze to quickly spread over the upper flat of the building. Also present at the time of the explosion was one Kenneth Welch, 51, Jamaican national of the above address. He sustained minor burns on the left hand. Welch, Billary and one Marvin Vernon, 36, Belizean woodcarver, occupied one of the rooms. Welch and Billary lost tools and clothing valued at $2,500 and Vernon lost clothing valued at $1,500. One Oscar Correa, 25, Belizean laborer, his wife Esmeralda Pineda, 19, domestic, and their children, Oscar Correa Jr. and Esmeraldita Correa also occupied the room. One Martha Yacab, 31, unemployed, Jose Yacab, 18, laborer and Linnette Yacab, 28, domestic worker, occupied the third room. None of the above persons were injured. The value of the damage caused to the building is not yet ascertained. One Gus Tabony of Belize City owns the building, and it is not yet known if the building is insured. No damage was caused to the lower flat. The fire was extinguished by the Fire Department. No foul play is suspected.
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