The beginning of this school year starts in less than 4 days, and parents and guardians are doing their last minute shopping for school materials. That is what Sonia Rivera was doing when she got a call that her house, located in the Maya Mopan Area, Belmopan, was engulfed in flames.
Sonia Rivera – Owner of the House
[Translated] “I stayed there that night, and in the morning I left to buy things for my kids, because they go back to school on Monday. While I was at the shop buying stuff for my kids, they informed me that the house was on fire, but when I reached here it had already burned down. It was about 11 in the morning.
I haven’t done anyone anything to come and do something like this. No one was present at the time of the incident but neighbours say the fire started at around 11 in the morning. The people that were here said they saw the house catch fire, but they didn’t do anything.
“I was washing, my sister-in-law here with me, and when my next neighbor out so, she holler to me and said, ‘What’s going on?’ I come out and I see the fire.
I see people just come. Then we come this side and we start to watch. We just don’t know to do. The fire truck take long to come. The bridge is blocked this side, and they have to go way around.
When they come in, everything done gone already.”
“The workers for the lady’s father-in-law, the owner, they come in first and start to broke up the bush, and start to out the fire. They couldn’t save it , because it’s very hot.”
Someone called the fire fighters, but when they reached it was too late to save any of the family’s belongings. The fire lasted less than an hour, but it was enough to burn everything to ashes.
According to Sonia Rivera no one knows how the fire started. It happened in broad daylight, and no one was around the house. When we contacted the Fire service in Belmopan, they told us that no foul play has been detected at this time, but said that the fire, they believe, started from inside.
But here is where the story gets a bit bizarre. Written on the door of the neighbour’s house with the ashes of the burnt house are the words “La Siguente” which is Spanish for “You’re Next”? Wilfredo Rivera, who lives a stone’s throw away from what used to be Sonia’s residence, says the circumstances following the event make him uneasy.
[Translated] “[Someone] wrote on the door and nothing good. It’s a deliberate threat to me and my family. I have two daughters and two sons, and my little brothers-in-law stay here sometimes. In all there’s eight of us that stay here. I don’t know if the people here hate us, or it’s jealousy, but I’ve never been threatened like this before, in the 15 years that I’ve been here. It would be really hurtful for me if something like that happened to my family.”
It could be a hoax but Mr Rivera says he is taking it seriously.
[Translated] “Well, they’ve never done it before, but I’m saying that, yes it is something serious, and it’s nothing good for us. Me and my family have to be careful that this doesn’t happen for real, because what they’ve done here on the door of my house, it threaten me and my family, and I really don’t like that.”
There is a level of insecurity in the community amplified by thick shrubs that surround the area. Of note is that there are major problems for vehicles such as fire engines and police vehicles to access that area and there is no police boot for the community.