A memorial bike ride through San Pedro warmly remembers Marcie

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T-shirt from the first annual Bike for Marcie ride in San Pedro, Belize and in cities across the United States.
T-shirt from the first annual Bike for Marcie ride in San Pedro, Belize and in cities across the United States.

Miles for Marcie Memorial/Cancer Awareness Bike ride this morning in San Pedro Town, Belize went from from the W.O.D. Cross-Fit Zone fitness box to the northern end of the concrete road and back again. A first-ever bike ride for a cause on the island and a promising start to an annual event.

Marcie and Gerry Neumann moved to San Pedro two years ago and 15 months later Marcie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Gerry, a really nice guy, is back on the island to stay.

Friends of theirs from all over the US also rode today in memory of Marcie.

Here are some more photos from the start of the ride: Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to Belize; Prisma app makes it suitable for framing

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This is the original photograph, which I snapped a few minutes ago after downloading the Prisma app. Wait til you see what follows!
This is the original photograph, which I snapped on my humble iPod a few minutes ago after downloading the Prisma app. Wait til you see what follows!

This is a photo of my back yard — or front yard, depending on your penchant for pedantry.

I must confess it has been really really hard to take a bad picture of this. And it is quite stunning to watch the composition shift with the introduction of weather, sunrises, strolling people, boats, storms and even the careless placement of a wheelbarrow and ladder (as you can see above).

The hardest thing to do is incorporate the lovely birds and butterflies that soar in and out of this composition. No picture has yet done justice to the hummingbirds, orioles, pelicans, blackbirds and yellow butterflies in migration that fill me with joy every day.

However, I have a completely new way of looking at this scene. You might call it “through artists’ eyes.” Read the rest of this entry »

On the road again, with a bicycle: Where green is the new black

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A glam shot, before the mud and rain and salt water turn it into a real mean green machine. Taken on the way home from picking up my new bicycle at Costillo's Hardware, the place where we bought similar bikes two and a half years agoo.
A glam shot, before the mud and rain and salt water turn it into a real mean green machine. Taken on the way home from picking up my new bicycle at Castillo’s Hardware, the place where we bought similar bikes two-and-a-half years ago.

It was time.

I’ve been waiting since March for Mario to return my bicycle and here it is mid-July.  I don’t think it’s coming back.

Not that I was expecting to see it again.

Mario used to work for the complex where we live. When he started showing up for work on foot I was kind of surprised and concerned. I knew that he lived over behind the airport and that is a bit of a hike to be taking twice a day.

It turns out that his bike frame had rusted in half. Read the rest of this entry »

Belize Electric sees a brighter future for the power grid on Ambergris Caye

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The Belize Electric crew.  Last Wednesday these guys turned around after a full day on the job and worked through the night to find out why the entire island had lost power.
The Belize Electric crew. Last Wednesday these guys turned around after a full day on the job and worked through the night to find out why the entire island had lost power. 

When you think of the electrical infrastructure that supplies Ambergris Caye with power, the mind travels back to Christmas.

Not last Christmas when the power went out for five hours.

Further back — let’s say 25 years ago because that is when the current power infrastructure for Ambergris Caye was designed –to a time when Dad was stringing lights on the tree and a single bulb went out. Well, it might have been a single bulb. You didn’t know because the entire string of lights went out.

This is Belize Electric Ltd. today. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Have you ever tried ‘hot mint coconut water’? My major fail.

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Island entrepreneur Jose fills his jugs with fresh coconut water. To bring them to market, the full jugs are attached to his handlebars by bits of netting he finds on the shore -- as many as 20 jugs dangle off his bicycle. And don't kid yourself -- this is hard work.
Island entrepreneur Jose fills his jugs with fresh coconut water. To bring them to market, the full jugs are attached to his handlebars by bits of netting he finds on the shore — as many as 20 jugs dangle off his bicycle. And don’t kid yourself — this is hard work.

Jose has been delivering fresh coconut water to my door for more than two years now.

Irregularly, of course.

He’ll come as often as three times a week, sometimes every other week.

Regardless, he is always out there in his uncharacteristically funky sunglasses, good weather and bad, harvesting fresh coconuts, from sunrise to well after dark. Jose is a true Belize entrepreneur. He likes being his own boss and he is rewarded for how hard he works and how well he sells. If he can fill and sell 15 gallons a day, that’s $150 BZD. Good money. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: When all goes right, the life you save may be that of a cell phone

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rain-cell

Somewhere in the dark and the rain along the rugged main road south from San Pedro Town, my friend Clive Brewster’s phone tumbled out of his pocket and skittered away in the blackness.

He didn’t even notice.

He was pretty busy steering his golf cart rumbling, stumbling, and trumbling, and sloshing in, around, and through ruts and bumps and deep rocky valleys in the road, in the rain.

The South Ambergris Caye road is so bad, I always feel a special appreciation when I see South island friends in town or up north at Marbucks  for a Thursday night Wine Down.

It isn’t just a journey. It’s a commitment.

But the next morning, when he realized the phone was gone, a sense of what might of happened began to dawn, as he sat watching the sun was rising over the barrier reef in front of him.

A logical and methodical man — and by nature an extremely optimistic one — Clive drew up a plan for finding his phone.

He would walk back up the road, scanning from side to side. It was early yet. There was still hope that it would be lying by the wayside somewhere.

The first thing he encountered were the puddles, enormous deep murky brown puddles,  as many as two and three, side-by-side, cratering the road. In some stretches during the rainy season, there is more  deep water than road. So, Clive borrowed his wife Janet’s phone.

Every time he reached a cluster of puddles he called himself.

If indeed it still worked, Clive reasoned, the phone would send up vibrations from the murky depths and the vibrations would morph into ripples and the ripples would alert Clive to the presence of his rat-drowned phone. Kind of like finding the black box on a downed aircraft. With about as much hope, too.

So Clive slowly worked his way up the road, retracing his path left and right, pausing periodically to call himself and scanning the puddles for signs of life.

At some point in this northbound exercise Clive noticed a familiar face, a man walking in the opposite direction. David Thompson was someone Clive would often encounter with a smile and a wave as he bicycled north to his daily workout at the Train Station gymnasium. And normally, David was also on a bicycle.

Clive hailed him. “By any chance did you find a phone this morning?”

David pulled off his knapsack and pulled out a tightly wrapped towel.

“As a matter of fact, I did.”

David explained: “Just a few minutes ago I was passing this puddle, and the water started to vibrate. I reached in and found this!”

It was Clive’s phone.

Clive’s plan had worked! It just required the assistance of another pedestrian — and a cascading confluence of unlikely circumstances — what we often call “luck,” I guess.

Clive thanked him, then added, “don’t you usually ride a bicycle?”

David did indeed bicycle to work, but this morning his tire was not only flat but rendered unfixable from tread worn as thin as the elbows on a tweed jacket.

So he was walking.

Which is why he found the phone.

Clive immediately offered to get new tires for his bike and by the next morning the two bicyclists David and Clive were again hailing each other with hearty waves and wide grins — perhaps heartier and wider than when they were strangers — as they flew by each other.

Kind of a post script

The phone, of course, stopped working as soon as Clive got it home.

It had, after all, been immersed in muck for hours. It was as if it had clung to life just long enough to be rescued at sea, only to die in the arms of a loved one from technological hypothermia.

But in another set of happy circumstances, a house guest of Clive and Janet’s was a big fan of resuscitating wet phones by immersing them in microwaved rice, hot and dry. Five one-hour immersions later, Clive’s phone sprang to life.

So, there is a phone god. And rice immersion, apparently, is not mythology.

And, this is Belize.

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Editor’s note: “This is Belize” is an occasional series within the “Bound for Belize” blog. It highlights the sometimes goofy, quirky, strange, frustrating, bewildering, heartwarming or sweet things that happen to us and which put a light on the Belizean outlook and spirit.
The title comes from a 20-year resident of Belize and long-time friend, Steve Thompson. When things happen here that are beyond Steve’s control or comprehension, he simply sighs and utters, mantra like, “This is Belize.” And he finds acceptance within, while warding off cynicism.
If you have experiences/stories that might leave you whispering “This is Belize,” send them to me so we can share! My e-mail is robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com.)

Hanging out with the Liberace of Lobster on Caye Caulker, among other pursuits

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Main stage area at the Caye Caulker LobsterFest on a brilliant Sunday morning, July 3, 2016.
Main stage area at the Caye Caulker LobsterFest on a brilliant Sunday afternoon, July 3, 2016.

After an especially eventful week on Ambergris Caye, with the San Pedro LobsterFest, the weeklong feast of Saint Peter, a huge downtown fire, and a firetruck getting stuck in sand responding to another fire, what’s a bunch of blokes to do but grab a boat and cruise on over to the Caye Caulker LobsterFest on Sunday morning.

When you’ve got to get away, Caye Caulker is the place.

Yes, that does sound odd, when you live on a tropical island that thousands of people have marked on their calendars as their dream get-away spot. Even Paradise gets to be too much after a while.

So, Caye Caulker. A smaller, quieter, less-dirty version of Paradise. Read the rest of this entry »

One stuck firetruck highlights San Pedro’s needs for more firefighting options

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San Pedro's firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco's Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji's restaurant on Thursday night. Bringing the right equipment for the right fire is key.
San Pedro’s firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco’s Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji’s restaurant on Thursday night. Bringing the right equipment for the right fire is key. (Photos by Melina Weissman)
San Pedro's firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco's Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji's restaurant on Thursday night.
San Pedro’s firetruck stuck in soft sand in front of Paco’s Tiki Bar while responding to a fire at nearby Aji’s restaurant on Thursday night.

A fire at Aji’s Tapa Bar & Restaurant‘s palapa bar on North Ambergris Caye, Thursday night, brought out the San Pedro firetruck. It got stuck in the sand in front of Paco’s Tiki Bar, just north of Aji’s, as it tried to find access to the waterfront eatery.

The restaurant was already repairing the fire damage on Friday and restaurant operation has not been halted by the fire, according to a neighbor.

The operation of the firetruck, however, was halted in the sand until Saturday morning. The truck was seen heading south for home around 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Bringing the right equipment to the right fire is important — but everyone knows that the options are limited to two trucks for the San Pedro Fire Station, the pumper and the big wagon (seen here).

Ironically, my friend and a San Pedro civic leader Amanda Syme recently relayed a timely and cost-efficient suggestion for bolstering the fire department’s options during a Facebook conversation. She said this suggestion came up in a recent Emergency Management meeting.

Small pumper can be set up quickly to fight fires while waiting for the fire department to arrive.
Small pumper can be set up quickly to fight fires while waiting for the fire department to arrive.

Said Amanda: “On the island, a natural water source is typically nearby and other areas often have swimming pools. The pump (at left) that was used to pump water from the sea helped immensely and could provide two hoses. The cost of the pump is only $15K BZD.

“If there were a number of these distributed around the island they could certainly assist with containing a fire whilst awaiting the fire department. Most definitely a serious purchase consideration for some of the resorts that can maintain and service the pumps and have them in readiness. And perhaps hotel staff could be trained to use them. The pump can be mounted on a trailer that can be pulled by a golf cart.”

Makes sense to me. Most people would rather be pulling a small pumper around than pulling a big old firetruck out of the sand.

What do you think?

Updated: San Pedro rises strong from the ashes

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TV Newscast from Channel 5 Belize with Fire Chief Ted Smith, from June 27, on the San Pedro Town fire. His comments are reminescent of the famous Donald Rumsfeld explanation of the Iraq War problems: “As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”

Time for a volunteer fire department to work beside the pros?

June 30, 2016

Having a national fire department, like a national police department, can be both good and bad. On the one hand, the entire country is served. On the other, it is sometimes served poorly in certain regions.

Ambergris Caye has certainly outgrown its two battered engines and small cadre of professional firefighters. But as Fire Chief Ted Smith points out, in a country with limited resources — you can expect limited resources. How many more times can citizens be expected to save the day with the heroics of the bucket brigades?

Or even our own dedicated firemen — with such limited resources and manpower —  what happens the next time a fire erupts behind the commercial canyon walls crammed full of wooden structures in our very dense downtown? What if they can’t get access?

A friend wrote to me asking about firefighting infrastructure — you know, fire hydrants. We may never reach that level of sophistication but how about firefighting cisterns?

When San Francisco rebuilt after the massive earthquake of 1906, the city built cisterns into the roads at key intersections. So much of the city was leveled by fire because there was no water to douse the flames. The cisterns ensured a supply of water for firefighters, should disaster strike again.

Early Monday morning, firefighters were scrambling to find wells to tap into with the bone-dry pumper truck. If there were cisterns at our key intersections, in our most crowded parts of San Pedro Town perhaps the story of the next fire would not be so devastating.

Additionally, given the limited resources of the national fire department, is it time to establish a volunteer fire department that works in unison with the professionals? I know that is a touchy subject but San Pedro’s citizens have shown time and again that they have the heart, courage and fortitude to face-down conflagrations with 5-gallon buckets of water. And I’m pretty sure there are enough retired firemen on this island to form the training nucleus for a volunteer corps.

Beyond that, once we have cared for all the victims of this fire, I would love to see the island’s fundraising expertise turned to supporting an improved professional fire department and the volunteer firefighting corps. (Well, and support our PolyClinic with massive infusions of fundraising love — but that is another issue for another day.)

When asked if Ambergris Caye would ever get the firefighting support it needs, Fire Chief Smith gave a flat out and honest no. “This is Belize,” he said. That wasn’t cynical, and it wasn’t dismissive. He was being honest and pragmatic.

This is Belize. Resources from the central government will always be limited — especially when the natin is funding the Ashcroft Alliance to the tune of half-a-billion dollars for BTL (again, a whole other story) — but island spirit and sense of community are boundless.

We don’t have to accept the realities of a government drained as dry as our pumper truck.

Centralized cisterns and a volunteer firefighting corps?

We can do this!

How different the burned area of San Pedro Town looks today. These images are from the San Pedro Red Cross this morning.
How different the burned area of San Pedro Town looks today. These images are from the San Pedro Red Cross this morning. See more images here.  And don’t forget, today is the Red Cross telethon and disaster relief fund-raiser on Reef Radio & TV. Detals below; just scroll down!

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June 29, 2016

Cleanup on Middle Street in San Pedro Town, Belize, continues today after Monday’s devastating fire. More than 60 volunteers showed up this morning to help clear debris from the area where 11 shops, restaurants and homes once stood.

And life goes on. The annual fishermen’s breakfast and boat parade were this morning. A stage is being built and chairs set out in front of the Roman Catholic Church to celebrate the annual feast of Saint Peter, our community’s namesake, with a Mass tonight by the Bishop.

Across town at Hon. Louis Sylvestre Sports Complex an even grander stage is being built for the Dia de San Pedro celebration, with entertainment, music and fireworks planned. Entertainment will continue through Saturday with big name bands on the stage each night. (Here’s the full schedule.)

Behind the Sylvestre field stage is the itinerant carnival where so many people were enjoying themselves when the fire broke out. Scores of revelers abandoned the ferris wheel and whirley rides and streamed into town to join the bucket brigades which yet again saved a piece of San Pedro.

Below is today’s roundup of stories, messages, alerts, photo galleries and information from around the island. I’ll keep adding to the digest as “stuff” is posted. There are also links to roundups from Monday and Tuesday and a collection of photo galleries shot by professional and amateur photographers.

If you see something is missing, IM me on Facebook or e-mail me at robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com. Bookmark and check back!

Monday: 88 people homeless, 11 buildings destroyed in San Pedro fire: Police say it is arson.

Tuesday: Cleanup of massive San Pedro fire begins

Amber Edwards writes an inspiring first-hand account of yesterday's clean-up and recovery efforts in San Pedro. It is a must read.
Ambergris Today writer Amber Edwards writes an inspiring first-hand account of yesterday’s clean-up and recovery efforts in San Pedro. It is a must read.

This is San Pedro strong

By Amber Edwards

It’s been on everyones mind lately and it weighs more than most Sanpedranos can bare. A fire, one night, 11 buildings, 27 families, 88 people who lost it all.

Immediately after our first news report the outpour of concerned calls and messages overwhelmed our phones, websites and social media and we all knew there was work to be done by all of us. I posted a flyer on Facebook the evening of the fire thinking if a handful of volunteers came to help we would do everything in our power to assist in the cleanup of the site.

You amazed me San Pedro! Forty-five of us met at Estel’s on Tuesday morning to assist in the cleanup and we were only one of the many groups who volunteered.  (Read more)

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Source of the fire determined, cause still uncertain

From Channel5Belize (June 28, 2016)

While San Pedro police have detained one man pending the outcome of a criminal investigation, fire officials are yet to determine the cause of the blaze.  According to Fire Chief Ted Smith, the department is working closely with the National Forensics and Science Services to ascertain if an accelerant was used to light the fire.

“What we have so far from the investigative team is that the fire originated from the southeastern corner of the structure that belonged to August Tabony, where the fire originated from.  That is what we have so far,” says Ted Smith, Fire Chief, National Fire Service

(Read the entire transcript here.)

Tough questions from Channel 7 Belize to the fire department

Why Only One Fire Truck And Two Firemen?

From 7 News Belize (June 28, 2016)

Fire Chief Ted Smith
Fire Chief Ted Smith

And so while that is the fire and the aftermath, what about the firefight? Did the Fire Department fail to contain the fire effectively?

There was only one fire truck working and only two fire men on duty. When they arrived at the scene, they found an unoccupied two storey wooden structure on fire. The bad part was that it was surrounded by other wooden buildings – which was a recipe for the disaster that unfolded.

The fire truck quickly expended the 300 gallons of water it had in the tank, and then had to activate mobile pumps to source water from the sea. That’s more than 15 minutes down time – which is when the fire quickly spread.

We spoke to the Fire chief today about what went wrong, and what was unavoidable. (Read the full  transcript here.)

Catch a movie this weekend, help the cause

Paradise Theater is donating the proceeds from all its movies this weekend, plus anything tossed in its donation bucket, to the San Pedro Fire Relief Fund

What’s showing? At 7 p.m. “Equals” and the Lego animantion feature “Justice League: Gotham City Break Out.”  At 9 p.m. the features are “Batman vs. Superman” and “Green Room.”

In the 2015 sci-fi film “Equals,” two people in a world that has lost the ability to feel, regain emotions and fall in love. And that’s a problem for the rest of society. In the blockbuster “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” the world’s greatest superheroes work out their issues in a most violent confrontation. Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams co-star. In “Green Room” a punk rock band must take on a gang of skinheads after witnessing a murder.

Numerous ways to help financially

The San Pedro Lions Club is the central collection point for all cash donations — as well as for food, clothing, toiletries and household goods at the Lions Den on Front Street. They are working with the San Pedro Food Bank, San Pedro Red Cross and scores of volunteers to ensure aid gets to the people who need it the most.

In town? You can write a check donation and make it payable to: San Pedro Lions Club

Out of town? Abroad? You can wire transfer money directly into the club’s account at Atlantic Bank Account (Account
#211 3829 02). Lion’s Club phone number is 011-501-226-2477.

You can also make a donation through any USA Lions Club, and mark it for San Pedro Lions Club relief fund.

The Southern Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch has set up and easy and fast way to donate through their webpage: https://sacnw.org/wp/product/fire-victim-assistance/. All monetary donations received will be forward to the San Pedro Lions Club chapter.

Also, donations can be sent through Western Union to the Belize Red Cross – Attention Director General Mrs. Lily Bowman. Purpose: Benefit for San Pedro Fire Affected Persons.

San Pedro Emergency Operations Committee and National Emergency Management Organization are “asking all members of the public to discontinue from creating individual fundraising profiles, since it will only open the door for confusion and unaccountability.”

Reef Radio and TV Telethon on Thursday

The Red Cross has organized a Reef Radio and TV Telethon for tomorrow, June 30, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The program is already a massive success: Atlantic Bank and Belize Bank have both pledged $5,000 — which makes for a great start!

Tune in to 92.3 FM Radio or Channel 20 on your television.

If you want to help,  volunteers are asked to show up at the station’s Pescador Drive offices between 6:30 and 7 a.m. for the morning shift and 11:30 a.m. to noon for the afternoon show. Volunteers will take donations over the phone. Others will hit the street with buckets to solicit donations.

Clothing drive a massive success; let the sale begin!

More clothing than could possible be used has been donated to the fire victims. The good news is that none of it will go to waste.

On Thursday, June 30, and Friday July 1, there will be a clothing sale like San Pedro has never seen before,  starting at 1 p.m.  All proceeds from the sale will go to the fire victims fund.

Buy local, share local — win-win

Food is still a critical need and will be for some time to come. Here is what the Food Bank and Lions Club suggest, if you want to help: “Please consider going to Linos Meat Store and purchasing gift certificates we can give the families! This will help Lino’s increase their sales, since they were affected by the fire, and will help all of the families get chicken and meat!

Lino’s is located on the northern-most corner of the Pescador Drive block that burned to the ground. Their building suffered heat and fire damage but remains intact.

Photo roundups

The Healing Power of a Good Story and Sharing (Photo by Karen Brodie)
The Healing Power of a Good Story and Sharing. See more photos by Karen Brodie here.

Aftermath: Cleanup of massive San Pedro fire begins

Posted on Updated on

Below is a roundup of news reports and information on the devastating fire that hit downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize in the early morning hours of June 27. More than 10 buildings were leveled and 88 people left homeless. Several businesses were completely destroyed.

Bookmark and check back: More content is being posted as it is published throughout the day. (Here is a link to yesterday’s posts and stories about the San Pedro fire: Police treating fire as arson.)

At the bottom of this post is a link to the numerous photo galleries posted by professional and amateur photographers. All telling the devastating story as words can not.

One truck at a time, the job is getting done. Volunteers and workers join together today to clean up the aftermath of the fire at Buccaneer Street & Pescador Drive in Town. (Photo by San Pedro Sun)
One truck at a time, the job is getting done. Volunteers and workers join together today to clean up the aftermath of the fire at Buccaneer Street & Pescador Drive in Town. (Photo by San Pedro Sun)

Thunderbolt water taxi makes special run in the morning with disaster relief from Corozal

From Corozal Daily

Jun 28 – San Pedro Fire Relief – The Management of Thunderbolt Water Taxi announces that Thunderbolt II will be making a special trip to San Pedro Ambergris Caye tomorrow June 29th at 8:00 a.m. from the municipal dock in Corozal Town. Send as much sundries as you can!

Anyone wishing to send donations to the San Pedro Fire Victims can make deliveries 1/2 hour before the boat departs tomorrow or preferably at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon at the municipal dock. This trip is a special one and will not stop in Sarteneja but Thunderbolt will continue to make FREE deliveries (until further notice) on its regular run departing at 7:00 a.m. each morning and stopping at Sarteneja.

Packages MUST be marked “San Pedro Fire Relief” “San Pedro Lions Club” c/o Thunderbolt.

Agencies caution against fund-raising sites, cite ‘official’ channel for giving aid

From:  San Pedro Emergency Operations Committee, NEMO

The Emergency Operations Committee (EOC), activated by the NEMO – San Pedro, would like to emphasize and advise that all financial aid for the San Pedro Fire victims is officially being channeled through the San Pedro Lions Club – Fire Relief Fund and the San Pedro Branch of the Belize Red Cross. The official bank account is ATLANTIC BANK number 211-382-902.

We are therefore asking all members of the public to discontinue from creating individual fundraising profiles, since it will only open the door for confusion and unaccountability.

The EOC has been working very closely with all the NGO’s, social partners, tourism stakeholders, local and national governmental organizations to ensure that all efforts are being properly coordinated. This is to ensure that all those affected by the unfortunate fire are being given equal assistance.

We take the opportunity to thank all those businesses, NGO’s, social partners, tourism stakeholders and other organizations and individuals who are working closely with the San Pedro EOC in this humanitarian effort.

For further questions or information, please call the EOC Command Center at telephone number: 226-4458.

Humanitarian spirit is healing wounds and sweeping away debris in San Pedro

From San Pedro Sun, 2:50 p.m.

The humanitarian spirit continues on Ambergris Caye as the community continues their efforts to help the victims who were greatly affected by the devastating fire that took place in the early hours of Monday, June 27th. The San Pedro Town Council along with many volunteers are heading a massive clean-up campaign in the immediate affected area.

While the clean-up efforts are underway, other volunteers and island non-profit organizations are ensuring that the affected families are fed, clothed and sheltered. Even organizations around the country have joined in the efforts to assist the fire victims.


More volunteers are still needed, especially at the San Pedro Lions Den with the distribution of items, as well as at the NEMO station, which is located at the San Pedro Town Council Conference Room in Town Hall.  The NEMO station will be operating for approximately three days with 24-hour assistance. For more information the SPTC can be contacted at 226-2198.

The Southern Ambergris Caye Neighbourhood Watch has set up and easy and fast way to donate through their webpage: https://sacnw.org/wp/product/fire-victim-assistance/. Any monetary donations received will be forward to the San Pedro Lions Club chapter. (See more photos.)

Palapa Bar will jam for the benefit of fire victims on Thursday

Jamming for the community -- Palapa invites all to come down and dance Thursday night. A percentage of the night's funds will go straight to the Lions Club relief fund.
Fire Relief Jam for the community — Palapa invites all to come down and dance Thursday night. A percentage of the night’s funds will go straight to the Lions Club relief fund.

This Thursday, the Palapa Bar will be donating 10 percent of the entire day’s sales or matching all donations made at Palapa Bar (whichever is greater) to help the Fire Relief Fund: “We will be making a donation to the Lions Clubs International (San Pedro chapter) at the Lion’s Den on Friday.

“If you are unable to make a monetary donation, please donate sheets, towels, pots, pans, silverware, plates, toiletries, soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and other hygiene products at the Lion’s Den, or bring ’em here, and we’ll give you a free rum drink in return!

“Let’s do what we can as a community to help each other. Please join us for Thursday’s Fire Relief Jam Night, and help give back to our community!

“For our friends outside of Belize, if you would like to make a monetary donation, please check out the only Lion’s Club approved website (at the moment) that is collecting donations online:https://sacnw.org/wp/product/fire-victim-assistance/

‪#‎SanPedroStrong‬ ‪#‎ReliefForSanPedro‬

Lions Den: Our clothing donations runneth over

June 28, 1 p.m.

Volunteers at the Lions Den are saying they have more than enough clothing donations.

What are needed most are:  food donations, toiletries and household items. As always, monetary donations are graciously accepted. Please share and get the word out!!

Tropic Air Belize has flown over 1,500 pounds of donated goods 

From Tropic Air

Packages at Tropic Air cargo awaiting shipment to San Pedro for disaster relief.
Packages at Tropic Air cargo awaiting shipment to San Pedro for disaster relief.

Thank you Belize for the generosity in donating items for the fire victims in our hometown of San Pedro. We have gotten over 1,500 lbs of donations as well as items from the Red Cross. Please continue to donate and send with ‪#‎TropicAir‬ Cargo free of charge. Label packages “Fire Relief” and we will have items delivered for free. ‪#‎TropicAirCares‬

If you wish to donate to those affected, you can drop your item(s) off at any Tropic Air Cargo station in Belize, and we will make sure it gets to those affected FREE of charge.
If the donation is for a particular family, we ask that it be properly packaged (no oversized boxes or items please) and labeled “Family ____, Fire Donation”. If it is a general donation, we ask that it be labeled “Fire Relief”, and we will take it from there.

Maya island Air is also flying donations in from the mainland for free and Caribbean Cargo is shipping them in by barge.

This is a tiny country with a huge heart! (See Tropic Air’s photos.)

Burned out remains of a washing machine are removed from the rubble in downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize on Tuesday, June 28.
Burned out remains of a washing machine are removed from the rubble in downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize on Tuesday, June 28.

San Pedro Town Council photos: Aftermath & Cleanup

The community of San Pedro stands strong and united after the Massive fire left 88 individuals homeless. After the impressive efforts of forming a bucket brigade to out the fire and also doing the impossible, they are out once again helping with the clean up of what is left.

Thank you to all the volunteers that have been at the site since early morning to help with the clean up. We also extend a huge thank you to all those businesses and people preparing food for the volunteers and the fire victims.

Thank you San Pedro! #SanPedroStrong #ReliefForSanPedro  (See the photo gallery)

cocolocoCoco Loco’s Beach Bar turns cribbage night into fundraiser

From Carmen Arenal

Last night, our Coco Loco’s Cribbage Crew raised a total of $375 to help the fire victims. We dropped it off at the Lion’s Den today. Thanks everyone!

At the 4 p.m. weekly Travellers Cribbage Tournament, and later for burgers on the grill, Coco Loco’s, donated 10% of all sales to the Food Bank to be given to the families affected by the fire last night. In addition, the bar matched the Cribbage cash total winnings.

Red Cross schedules fund-raiser on Reef Radio/TV

reef-radioFrom San Pedro Red Cross

Update: From San Pedro Town Council — Belize Bank has already kickstarted the radiothon with a pledged of $5,000! Thank you Belize Bank! Please make a donation and support the San Pedro Fire Victims in their time of need. We also need lots of volunteers to help restore balance.

88 or so residents (27 families) and 11 family and business buildings destroyed, 6 partially ruined buildings. 21 families (68 people) lost everything. (numbers courtesy of San Pedro Sun)

Reef Radio and TV Telethon – Thursday June 30th from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm on Middle St. Look for our dollar drive teams around town.

This Telethon be combined effort from Red Cross, Projects abroad, South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch (SACNW), San Pedro Tourist Guide Association, Ms. Flora Ancona and Hellfighters Footsoldiers Ambergris Caye Belize will be joining forces with us on Thursday Radiation.

All monies raised will be distributed by the Lions Club. (Read More.)

Smart extending aid to victims

smartFrom Smart Sales Manager San Pedro/Caye Caulker

Smart is extending a helping hand to those affected by the recent fire in San Pedro which has affected twenty seven families. The Company will be donating $2,500 to assist the fire victims. In addition, the Company has activated its Smart! Cares Program to facilitate customers who wish to contribute. Customers can text to CARE (2273) and pledge a donation which will be deducted from their credit.

Smart will match ALL donations made.

(SEND A TEXT TO 2273 and in the body of the text put the amount (numerical) that you wish to donate from your Primary Credit … example if you put 5 then $5 will be donated from your credit).

Relief efforts for fire victims under way

From The San Pedro Sun

After a devastating fire that occurred after midnight on Pescador Drive on Monday, June 27th, community members have come together to provide relief efforts. Out of 11 buildings destroyed, 8 were businesses, and 3 were family homes. A total of 88 people were affected by the fire, and 68 lost everything.

San Pedro Town Mayor Daniel Guerrero emphasized that the main priorities are having enough volunteers to speed the clean-up, accommodations to shelter the victims, food, water, and clothing. The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC), along with stakeholders from various Non-government organizations held a briefing at the SPTC conference room to discuss relief efforts for the fire victims.

According to Mayor Guerrero, recovery depends on the community. “This is a tragedy, and we need to overcome it just as we have in the past. I know people of San Pedro are hardworking, and I know with the help and ideas of our good people, we will get back on track,” said Mayor Guerrero. (Read more.)

Massive relief effort launched in wake of fire

From Channel 5 Belize

The families displaced by the fire are looking for basic necessities following the horrible fire. They lost everything in the blink of an eye. In the island, relief efforts have started, but it will take some time to recover from the tremendous losses. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting: In the immediate aftermath of the fire, San Pedranos are coming together to assist victims with shelter, as well as food and clothing.  A total of eighty-eight persons have been displaced by the conflagration and are in need of basic necessities.  Leading the effort and coming to their aid is the San Pedro Lions Club.  Since this morning, members of the organization have been doing their part to raise funds and collect various items to donate to the fire victims. (Read more.)

88 persons homeless as fire devastates San Pedro Neighborhood

From Channel 5 Belize

As many as eighty-eight persons have been affected by the biggest fire to erupt in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. The inferno sent clouds of fire into the sky as smoke engulfed the area on Sunday night. It is not yet known what sparked the blaze on Pescador Drive in the heart of the town, destroying a total of eleven buildings before it could be contained. Residents assisted in the efforts to put out the inferno as only one of two fire trucks in the prime tourism destination was operational. All hands are on deck right now as investigations take place. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports. (Read more.)

Block-burner on San Pedro leaves 88 homeless

From 7 News Belize

Tonight, 88 people are homeless, and there is major loss of property as San Pedro town tries to recover from a massive fire that devoured part of a downtown block in Belize’s tourism capital.

Tonight, we’ll have the story from the island plus the answers from the fire chief and the police.

We start with the basic narrative. This morning at12:45, The San Pedro Fire department received a report of a fire on Pescador Drive, which is in the heart of the town. By the time it was done four hours later, 11 buildings had burnt and 6 were partially damaged. (Read more.)

Ambergris Today photo from Monday afternoon shows the scope of devastation from the early morning fire in downtown San Pedro, Belize.
Ambergris Today photo from Monday afternoon shows the scope of devastation from the early morning fire in downtown San Pedro, Belize.

Ambergris Caye’s Massive Efforts to Assist 88 Fire Victims and Cleanup Downtown Disaster Area

From Ambergris Today

As the community of Ambergris Caye rapidly pushes humanitarian efforts to effectively assist the fire victims of this morning’s tragedy and ensure that they are fed, clothed and sheltered, the San Pedro Town Council pushed forward a massive cleanup campaign of the devastated downtown area and the San Pedro Police Department looks into making an arrest of an individual suspected to be the arsonist responsible for the fire.

Henry Jemmott, Assistant Superintendent/Deputy CEO of Police in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, stated that his department is conducting an internal criminal investigation separate from the San Pedro Fire Department’s investigations. They are looking at arson as to the cause of the fire.

Just a few hours after the massive and disastrous fire that raved through downtown San Pedro, the Lions Club, Leos Club and the San Pedro Food Bank were first to organize a collecting station for non-perishable food, clothing and personal items for the fire victims. Clothing, toys for children and even diapers have been made available to them, but now donations of towels, pillow, bed sheets and personal hygiene items are being asked for by the Lions Club/Food Bank. (Read more.)

Estimated million-dollar fire razes 10 buildings on Ambergris Caye

By Aaron Humes:

An early morning fire on Pescador Drive in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye is said to have razed ten buildings including homes and business and caused as much as a million dollars in damage.

Around 12:45 this morning, police and fire officials responded to a wooden two-storey apartment behind El Durado Store on Pescador Drive which was on fire.

The fire spread quickly toward Lino Meat Shop and ultimately further up Pescador Drive and Black Coral Street, wiping out several houses, apartment buildings and business establishments. (Read more.)

88 San Pedro residents affected by devastating fire

From The San Pedro Sun

As many as 88 residents have been left homeless after a devastating fire gutted through 17 homes shortly after midnight on Monday, June 27th.

11 buildings were totally destroyed, of which 8 were businesses and 3 were family homes. 6 buildings were partially destroyed. 27 families, totaling 88 people, have been affected by the most devastating fire San Pedro has seen in recent history. 21 families (68 people) lost everything.  (Read more.)

Clive Welsh photos: The clean-up is underway

By Clive Welsh

The clean up is underway; thank you to the many companies, businesses, visitors, tourist, Town Council San Pedranos. Thank God for His grace and mercy! (See photos.)

Karen Brody Photography: San Pedro Fire Aftermath

Work crews beginning the large debris cleanup as remanants of the fire continued to smolder. (Photo by Karen Brody)
Work crews beginning the large debris cleanup as remanants of the fire continued to smolder. (Photo by Karen Brody)

After taking these few pictures that left me feeling like I was in a war zone, I checked in to the Lion’s Den along with so many others to donate and spent the rest of the day helping in any way possible.

May the heart warming stories and the generosity from and to our neighbours be what is remembered long after we have come together and helped these families rebuild their lives.

I am grateful to have had a little part in this effort. (Read more.)

How Can You Help The Fire Victims and the Clean-Up in San Pedro?

From Sanpedroscoop.com

At the Lions Den on Front Street, donations pouring in. (Photo by the San Pedro Food Bank)
At the Lions Den on Front Street, donations pouring in. (Photo by the San Pedro Food Bank)

Sunday night there was a terrible fire on the highly populated, densely packed Middle Street in downtown San Pedro.  You can see the truly scary photos in Ambergris Today and San Pedro Sun.  THANK GOODNESS NO ONE WAS INJURED.  Yesterday morning, I posted pictures of the wreckage.

People and groups are stepping up almost hourly and the mayor has pledged – with a huge team of volunteers – to have the area cleared and cleaned in 3 days, starting today.  The San Pedro Town Council has requested more volunteers – their facebook page is the best place for updates.  Stop by the Town Council building – or speak to one of the officers at the site to help.

Here are the approved organizations that are leading the effort: (Read more.)

 

Photo roundups

Once again, the San Pedro community came together in bucket brigades to try and douse a raging fire. This is the third time in our 2.5 years here that we have witnessed such selfless courage by residents. The day before we arrived on this island, half of Ramon's resort was save by the bucket brigade and less than two years ago a large lagoon-side neighborhood near Boca del Rio was battled by the community alongside the fire department.
Once again, the San Pedro community came together in bucket brigades to try and douse a raging fire. This is the third time in our 2.5 years here that we have witnessed such selfless courage by residents. The day before we arrived on this island, half of Ramon’s resort was save by the bucket brigade and less than two years ago a large lagoon-side neighborhood near Boca del Rio was battled by the community alongside the fire department. (Photo by Jorge Aldana.)
Rebecca Coutant of San Pedro Scoop has published a full selection of images of the Middle Street devastation. Check out her blog post here. Clean-up has already begun.
Rebecca Coutant of San Pedro Scoop has published a full selection of images of the Middle Street devastation. Check out her blog post here. Clean-up has already begun.