We begin our News Cast tonight with a very heart breaking story coming out of San Pedro. Four persons were burnt to death in an early morning fire on the Island of San Pedro. According to reports, the fire started around 3:30 a.m. in the Escalante subdivision of San Pedro. And, While Police continues their investigation, it is believed that the fire started on the second floor of a two storage wooden house that was the property of Clara Bacab- Nunez and her family. Unfortunately, Clara Nunez and her two children 14-year-old Allen Nunez and 6-year-old Mia Nunez, as well as her 16-year-old niece Shirley Bacab would not make it out of the burning house alive. Clara Nunez and her Husband David Nunez were renting the lower flat of the building to Tracy Cruz. This morning we heard from Cruz who told our media Colleagues how she escaped the fire that had her and her two children trapped downstairs
Tracy Cruz, San Pedro Fire Victim: I messaged my common law and I told him to call me at 5 0’ clock for me to get up and do my washing. Since I told him I was very sleepy and after that something told me ‘just get up and finish your laundry’ and I went to the bathroom, checked my washing machine and took out some clothes. Then I opened the door to the kitchen and I saw smoke inside of the kitchen. And through the front window, I could see everything turn orange. That was when I opened the front door and I was checking to see if I could come out with my kids, but the verandah from upstairs was already dropping in. The fire was already everywhere and I locked back the door. I ran back to the room, that’s when the light went off and I tried to call my common law husband to tell him what was going on. The internet connection wires were burnt already and I couldn’t call him. Then, I began banging the wall to see if the neighbors could hear me to help me get out with my kids, but I think they were already out. So I got so scared, I then grabbed my kids in the dark smoke and either kicked or punched the back bathroom window. They opened and fell out and I threw out my kids and also ran outside, because the house was engulfed with flames.
David Nunez, the husband of Clara Nunez and father of 14-year-old Allen Nunez and 6-year-old Mia Nunez managed to escape from the burning second floor along with his son, by reportedly forcing their way through a window and jumping. While Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control sometime later, Cruz told our media colleagues that Firefighters arrived on the scene too late and unprepared for the fire
Tracy Cruz, San Pedro Fire Victim: They arrived too late I think because the house was fully on fire. The house was fully on fire and then when they came, they only sprayed a little bit of water. I don’t know if they ran out of water but I see the truck just moved away. The neighbors came with hose and someone brought a pump, a portable electric pump. And they started taking out water from the well, since there was a well in front of the yard.”
We heard from the Fire Department earlier today where Oren Smith, Station Manager, of the National Fire Service confirmed that the fire trucks ran out of water due to the truck’s water capacity. Smith also indicated that the Fire Department is only able to respond at the time a fire is reported.
Reporter: Are you able to establish where the fire started from?
Reporter: Now talk to us about the response time by San Pedro Fire Station. You guys got the call 3:30 and responded, but the fire started from 2:45.
Orin Smith, National Fire Service: Again, the National Fire Service, we really won’t know when a fire actually starts. Our time starts when we receive that information of the fire and then based on that, that’s when our response time began. However, on scene, based on what you just said, I am sure that by the time they arrived on scene it couldn’t have been a rescue mounted if the fire had indeed started that long ahead.
Reporter: If there is indeed such a lag, is there anything to explain,, a fire isn’t anything like a cancer then, it’s out there. You can see and detect a fire and it spreads very quickly. Is there anything that could explain such an interval of 45 minutes?
Orin Smith, National Fire Service: Honestly, no. Our time, as I said, would be literally when we receive that information and that would trigger a response from our end. Those on scene, or those who are associated with the incident would have had to be the ones to either make that call that triggers our response or some passer by our neighbour would have to make that call to trigger an earlier response. There are two units in San Pedro. These units compared to what we have in Belize City are pretty much small. The combination of both structures I think has approximately 700 gallons. If you get on the scene and you use three lengths of hose, 70mm by 100ft length. It takes 30gallons to fill 1 lengths of hose, that’s 90gallons. If you’re using 2 branch pipe that discharges 100 gallons per minute, that’s 290 gallons per minute being discharged out of 700 gallons. You have at least just about 2 and a half minutes to fight the fire before the truck has to leave the scene to find water supply.
Supt. Henry Jemmot: This morning around 3:15 thereabout, police were called out to the area of about Escalante in San Pedro town. We received information of a house fire. Upon police making checks in the area, they noticed one building engulfed in fire, and another almost engulfed as well. Police then called the fire department and they proceeded towards the area of Escalante where they started to extinguish the fire in the area. Three buildings sustained fire damages. We know that the main building, and another house that was beside it was totally engulfed in flame; everything was destroyed. Some of the persons managed to escape unhurt. We have two persons who sustained injuries, burn injuries and other injuries, and 4 persons lost their life.
Several houses located within close proximity of this morning’s fire also sustained damages. The home of Nano Guerro, the brother of Mayor Danny Guerro, was one such property. Plus News understands that his newly built house was still under construction, after he lost his previous home to a fire on the Island sometime last year. Nano told our Media Colleagues in Belize City that he was planning to move into the house by the end of this year, but now those plans will be delayed.
Nano Guerro, Fire Victim: Like around 3:30 in the morning, around that time,.
Reporter: I understand that the house prior to this one, some years ago burnt down. How long ago was that?
Nano Guerro, Fire Victim: That one was maybe like one year and a half ago, something like that.
Reporter: So this house you were moving to was basically your other house after rebuilding?
Reporter: What would you say is the amount of damage done right now?
Nano Guerro, Fire Victim: I’m not sure; I’m waiting for the contractor to come and say. I’m not too sure.
Reporter: When were you planning to move in?
Nano Guerro, Fire Victim: I was planning by the end of this month.