Update: Homeless in worst fire since Ramon’s doubles to more than 60 in San Pedro, Belize

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Fire in the San Juan area of San Pedro levels several homes and an apartment building along the canal tonight, July 7, 2014.
Fire in the Boca Del Rio area of San Pedro levels at least six homes, including an  apartment building along the canal tonight, July 6, 2014.

Update: The San Pedro Sun reports this morning that more than 60 people are homeless, five homes and numerous smaller structures destroyed and two people were injured in last night’s raging fire in the Boca Del Rio section of San Pedro. 

Adds the Sun: “The fire affected 66 people from 16 different families, including 32 minors below the age of 17. During the fire, two people received injuries; a male who sustained a broken hand after a house beam fell on him during the fire and a one-month old child who had difficulty breathing from the smoke and heat. They were both treated and released from the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II.
“According to both San Pedro Police and the San Pedro Fire Department, their investigations continue to determine the cause of fire. The total estimated loss has not yet been calculated, but is expected to be above $2 million. None of the nine buildings were insured.”

Read the weekly newspaper’s latest report here.

Fire broke out around 8:30 tonight in the Boca Del Rio Area of San Pedro, Belize, just west of Laguna Drive on Bonefish, a dirt road bordered by the notorious Los Compadres bar and Lee’s Fast Food.

It is the worst fire on Ambergris Caye since August 27, 2013 when a huge fire leveled a large section of Ramon’s Village, the popular seaside resort in San Pedro.

This time the flames destroyed at least six homes.

At least several homes close to the canal  and possibly an apartment building were consumed by flames as firemen poured on water and a citizen bucket brigade made up of at least 100 volunteers brought a steady stream of water to the fire.

The fire seemed mostly contained by 10 p.m., although far from extinguished.

photo 2 (35)

Citizen bucket brigade aids firefighters as flames consume at least six homes on Bonefish in the Boca Del Rio area of San Pedro tonight.
Citizen bucket brigade aids firefighters as flames consume at least six homes on Bonefish in the Boca Del Rio area of San Pedro tonight.

13 thoughts on “Update: Homeless in worst fire since Ramon’s doubles to more than 60 in San Pedro, Belize

    Tapestry Communications said:
    July 7, 2014 at 5:19 am

    This must be when you miss the US with its fire departments.


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 7, 2014 at 9:37 am

      Fortunately fires are fairly rare here but wooden houses are so densely packed together that when there is one it can be bad. The local newspaper said it took 30 minutes for the fire department (about 10 blocks away) to respond. They were there when I arrived and looked like they were doing a professional job containing the flames — but I suspect there will be drills on response time.
      The equipment is old, second-hand stuff. They deserve better. The people of San Pedro deserve better.
      Bucket brigades seem to be a traditional part of every fire here. Neighbors pitch in and bring water from the closest source — a lagoon or canal. These kids — boys and girls teens to early twenties — were amazing.


    Paul Baudry said:
    July 7, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Any updates on the fire?


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Hi Paul, I just added an update to the story — more than 30 homeless.


    Emily said:
    July 7, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Wow, how horrible. I can certainly tell you were a reporter in your previous life…excellent reporting.


    Jim Montgomery said:
    July 8, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Hi Bob, having just left Reef a week ago, and knowing some locals that live in the area of the fire, I hope everyone is okay. Was Omar’s place close? I have not heard from him yet.


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 8, 2014 at 7:24 am

      Hi Jim. Does Omar live right behind Abuela’s, his wife’s deli? If so, they were out of range of the fire. The damage was two blocks west of Los Compadres bar/Laguna Drive,and stopped on reaching the canal.

      You might know Wayne, one of the security guards and soon-to-be father of Wayne Jr.! — his place was two houses away from the last one to burn down.

      Joe Hernandez from the bike shop right across the bridge was not so lucky. He lost everything. Kim and Milton, who just moved into Reef, had a bunch of spare furniture which they gave to Joe and his family. Lions Den downtown is collecting donations of food, clothing and furniture for the 60-plus victims.


        Jim Montgomery said:
        July 8, 2014 at 7:42 am

        Great! Thanks for telling me. I feel for all the people that have lost everything. I wish I was still there to be able to contribute.


    Randi Donselar said:
    July 8, 2014 at 10:43 am

    We were in San Pedro when this happened. We just bought a place at Ambergris Lake Villas (south of town) last December, but were staying at the Royal Caribbean Resort (further south) because we have long term renters at our place. We could see the flames from down south and grabbed our golf cart and headed up north to help. My husband was a firefighter in the army at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, and then a volunteer firefighter in the neighborhood. My son and I were just figuring to help with whatever was needed. We were there for three hours (until the police and firefighters got the fire under control). My husband helped to direct the firefighters (with a police officer interpreting for him) once he identified himself to the police as having firefighting experience, and my son and I worked in the bucket brigade. We came home to the U.S. last night, and you can imagine my surprise when I searched:San Pedro Fire this morning to find out more details and found a picture of my son in the bucket brigade! He is in the center of your last picture, straight down from the orange flames. He is ankle deep in the lagoon and has on a grey t-shirt and plaid shorts. I was further up in the line of women and kids bringing back empty buckets. Not taking ANYTHING away from the police and firefighters, but it truly was the neighborhood people who saved their neighborhood! It would have been MUCH worse if not for the (literally) hundreds of people on those bucket lines! The next morning, before leaving San Pedro, we drove back up to the scene to see the damage, and I was amazed at the number of people who recognized us and thanked us. It goes without saying that we love San Pedro, we have bought our retirement home, and will be there full time in three or four years. Our youngest (in the picture) is 20 years old and will probably move tom San Pedro permanently in the next year or two. I took some picture of the morning after, and will be posting them on Facebook later today. But I just had to tell you our story after seeing Jeff’s picture! Regards! Randi (Pedersen) Donselar


      robertjhawkins1 responded:
      July 8, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Randi, that is a beautiful thing you did. I am so grateful to you for sharing your story. I definitely noticed your son and I may have seen you too. I was trying to figure out how I could insert myself into the line without messing up the machinery when everyone suddenly headed off down the road to a new location, to the south of the fire. I just couldn’t keep up!
      It seems like our firefighters could use some training in faster response time. I am reminded of the small brush fire in San Diego’s back country that was allowed to burn overnight in 2003. Winds turned it into a freight train that destroyed over 3,000 homes. Now, no fire is too small to attack with full force — immediately. With dry, wooden houses crammed so close together San Pedro needs to treat every fire like it will be a disaster unless attacked.
      Do you want a better picture of your son? Send me an e-mail at robertj.hawkins2012@gmail.com and let me know.
      Look forward to meeting you and your family when you are down here.


        Randi Donselar said:
        July 8, 2014 at 11:41 am

        Thank you! And yes I would love more pictures! My email is randi@cpeinc.net. And I will in turn email you the day after photos. On our way back to the room Sunday night my husband kept saying things like: No one had “gear”…not enough hose..so little direction. I turned to him and jokingly said: “What part of ‘third world country’ do you not understand?” My son and I have spent more time in Belize than he has, and I guess it was time for a wake up call for him! He just kept shaking his head! I said that maybe once we are there permanently he could get involved with some training and advising for the Fire Department, which would be a two way blessing as he is a doer, and I was worried about him being bored when we retire! By the way, if you heard a 58 year old white lady yelling for the women to form the “return empty bucket” line
        so more guys could help with the filled, heavier buckets…that was me!


        robertjhawkins1 responded:
        July 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm

        I did see you! I thought you were a local the way you were mustering the troops!


    Randi Donselar said:
    July 8, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Nope, just a pushy American….who will soon be a local! Seriously, I am looking forward to being in San Pedro and hopefully making it a better place. I especially love the children there, and would love to get involved with them, maybe the trash campaign I see developing where the children paint signs and trash cans. Possibly getting trash pick-up days organized with some of the local kids and rewarding them with a picnic or cookout at a pool or the beach.
    I am not sure when we will be back, as our place is rented and we have to book a place to stay when we are there, but we will have to get in touch when we do come back!


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