Fire claims one life

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 15, No. 1            January 6, 2005

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The town of San Pedro was gearing up and getting ready for all the festivities aimed at bidding the year 2004 goodbye. However, at 9:50 p.m. news about a fire circulated around the tiny island.

    At the corner of Seagull and Sand Piper Streets, a 20' by 10' wooden structure could be seen engulfed in flames. The house, belonging to Ariel Trejo, 60-year-old resident of San Pedro, was valued at $7,000 and was not insured. Police officers, in the area carrying out their usual route, saw the fire and went to render aid. According to neighbor Adi Trejo, as the officers kicked in the front door "all the fire came out."

    Once the fire had been extinguished and fire fighters could enter the building, a male body was discovered in the kitchen area, lying down in a crouched position. The body was later identified to be that of Mauricio Adalberto Rodriguez, 24-year-old tenant.

    The body was transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital where awaited a post mortem examination. Initial police investigations revealed that Rodriguez had been drinking with friends earlier in the evening but family members believe that there is more to the incident than meets the eye.

    In an interview with Wendy Rodriguez, sister of the deceased, The San Pedro Sun found out that several threats had been made to Mauricio's life. "We just want to know what happened. It is like a puzzle that needs to be put together," she stated. According to Wendy, three weeks prior to the fire last Friday, someone had made attempts to burn the house. On that occasion, her 15-year-old brother had been in the house. "After the incident somebody called and we do not know who called and said that if my brother does not calm down, they would calm him down. That call was left like that, uninvestigated and we do not know who made the call or why they made the call," Wendy said.

    On Tuesday, a post mortem examination revealed that Rodriguez died of smoke inhalation. According to the doctor who performed the autopsy, however, the body also contained signs of bruises not consistent with the fire. Fire officials from Belize City arrived on San Pedro on Tuesday to conduct further investigations. The case remains open by the San Pedro Police Department. Anybody with information is asked to please contact the 922 hotline, all calls are answered in the United States of America assuring complete confidentiality.
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