Police treating fire as arson; 26 families homeless, 11 buildings burned; focus turns to cleanup, donations for victims
Updated June 27, 7:31 p.m.
Please check out the frequently updated section on fire victim donations and how you can help, below. Fire information is constantly growing and changing.
Latest news: Police treating fire as arson. Disaster by the numbers. Maya Island Air and Tropic flying over contributions for free. A second gofundme.com page is set up for donations. Lions Den is main drop-off center in San Pedro. San Ignacio sets up drop off center. See details below.
Updated June 27, 11:07 a.m.: San Pedro Sun is now reporting that 88 people were affected by the fire, mostly left homeless, and 11 buildings were completely destroyed in the early morning fire in Downtown San Pedro, Belize. Eight buildings were businesses and the others were residences.
Updated June 27, 1:12 p.m.: Mary Rodriguez of the San Pedro Sun reports that “police are investigating it as arson.” The Sun quotes Deputy of the Belize Police Department Coastal Executive Unit Henry Jemott as saying, ““So far we are doing internal criminal investigation to see what occurred. The fire department was also assisting at this time; we would not like to speculate but we are looking at arson at this time.”
The numbers are devastating: 21 families comprising 68 people lost everything in the fire, the Sun reports. This link from the Sun includes around 40 stunning pictures from this morning’s fire scene.
Among the businesses destroyed were El Dorado Market, former Waraguma restaurant (recently closed?) and Cortez Upholstery — others?
Update June 27, 2:38 p.m.: Clive Welsh posts 19 photos of clean-up progress and tour of the disaster site by Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. this afternoon.
Update, June 27, 12:48 p.m.: San Pedro disaster, by the numbers (compiled by Ambergris Today):
Total # of Buildings Completely Destroyed – 11
Total # of Buildings Partially Destroyed – 6
Total # of Business Places Completely Destroyed – 8
Total # of Business Places Partially Destroyed – 6
Total # of Families Affected – 27
Total # of People Affected – 88
Total # of Families with Complete Loss – 21
Total # of People with Complete Loss – 68
Total # of Families with Partial Loss – 6
Total # of People with Partial Loss – 20
Update June 27, 11:43 a.m.: Laurie Norton of San Pedro Red Cross says that Mayor Daniel Guerrero will be meeting with a number of organizations this afternoon to “plan a way forward,” after the devastating fire downtown.
An entire block of shops, restaurants and homes along Middle Street in downtown San Pedro went up in flames shortly after midnight on Monday, June 27. The buildings were between Lino’s Meat Market and Graniel’s Dream Shop. There were numerous wooden residences behind this row of shops that were also destroyed.
We awoke this morning to the fire under control, thanks to a community bucket brigade and the local fire department.
Update June 27, 9:23 a.m,: Ambergris Today is reporting that as many as 1,000 residents joined in the bucket brigades and that as many as 40 residents were displaced from their homes by the fire.
The homeless have been put up at San Pedro Roman Catholic School.
Update June 27, 9:35 a.m.: There is widespread power outage surrounding the burn area. Expect many businesses in the downtown area closest to the fire to be closed. Residents and visitors are also being urged to stay out of the way of workers as they cleanup damage from the fire. There will be lots of trucks moving in and out of the area.
Links to photos and videos will be added to this page today, many taken by the San Pedro Sun, town council staffer Jorge Aldana and Ambergris Today as well as others. This page will be updated as more information is published.
Residents who were driven out by the fire are being housed at the San Pedro Roman Catholic School. Early this morning a call for volunteers, and any other assistance was put out.
Donation information is being updated here as it arrives:
Update, June 27, 3:23 p.m.: Laurie “Tacogirl” Norton lists five ways people can help the fire victims get back on their feet.
From San Pedro Sun at 3 p.m.: “Baby items are desperately needed as well: wipes, diapers, formula, etc. As people have no way to cook, instant meals such as cereals and milk are much appreciated.”
Update, June 27, 9:04 a.m.: It has been reported that donations are being accepted at the Lions Den and at San Pedro Roman Catholic School. No word on what sort of donations are best, yet, but be practical! Fire victims lost everything.
Update, June 27, 9:25 a.m.: Jorge Aldana reports that donations can be brought to the Town Council offices on Front Street. Practical clothing and can food are needed most, he said.
Update, June 27, 9:40 a.m.: Brittney O’Daniel from Sandbar lists these items as needed now: “Household items, towels, pots, pans, silverware, sheets, pillows, toys, clothing.”
Update, June 27, 9:45 a.m.: From Laurie (tacogirl.com) with Red Cross: “Lions open and accepting donations for fire victims and will distribute – they need everything, Nemo is meeting shortly and San Pedro Red Cross is waiting for a meeting with the Mayor to discuss moving forward. SPBRC will be organizing a telethon in action for the fire victims.”
Update June 27, 9:58 a.m.: From Crazy Canuck’s Bar: “As many of you know, there was a large fire in downtown San Pedro late last night. Many people lost their homes and businesses. We will be putting out a donation box at the bar. Any clothing items, shoes, toiletries … anything you are willing to donate … we will get them to the fire victims.
“Let’s hope for a speedy recovery for San Pedro.”
Palapa Bar on Boca del Rio has also set up a donation box and will bring your donations down to the Lion’s Club.
Update June 27, 12:20 p.m.: On the Mainland, Mary K Cariddi of Belize Expats for Real Information and Mahogany Hall resort reports that “Patrick E. Jones will be collecting contributions for the fire victims in San Pedro. We will be donating clothing for adults and children.” The drop off center for donations in San Ignacio is the Central Cable office on Burns Avenue, according to Mary Cariddi.
Update June 27, 10:15 a.m.: Ambergris Today reports that anyone on the Mainland with donations can take them to Tropic Air for delivery. “Tropic Air is delivering donations free of charge,” reports the blog. “Personal hygiene items, towels and linens most needed.”
From Tropic Air at 11:05 a.m.: “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 over-sized 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.”
Updated June 27, 10:25 a.m.: The South Ambergris Caye Neighborhood Watch group has set up a page for people who would like to donate cash online. Type in the amount (it records in Belize dollars) and follow the commands. You can donate here. The page begins with $1 BZD increments. To increase the amount type in a higher number — for example, “100” — in the quantity space next to “Add to Cart.”
Updated June 27, 11:30 a.m.: A go-fund-me site has been set up by Don and Cindy Johnson, with a goal of raising $10,000 USD for San Pedro Fire Victims. You can reach the page at this link.
Updated June 27, 12:30 p.m.:A second gofundme.com site has been set up to assist the victims of the San Pedro Fire, this one by Kris Bradley Seals of San Pedro (formerly of Lansing, Michigan).
Question: Who monitors gofundme.com pages and ensures that the money reaches the intended beneficiaries? Just wondering.
Updated June 27, 11:58 a.m.: Maya Island Air is also flying in donations from the mainland. Here is the information: Maya Island Air “Management and Staff have begun a relief drive to assist those affected and we encourage our partners and friends to do the same. If you wish to donate articles of clothing, linens, canned goods, toys and the like, kindly package and label them accordingly, and drop them off at your nearest Maya Island Air Cargo Station. Maya will be flying this relief freight at no charge, so feel free to spread the word and donate to those affected on San Pedro. *For consideration, we are requesting no over-sized packages. Our hearts go out to you all and we hope you will recover and become stronger each day!”
Clive Welsh posts 19 photos of clean-up progress and tour of the disaster site by Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. this afternoon.
From Jorge Aldana, photos taken at Ground zero in San Pedro Town following a devastating fire. A total of 88 people affected and a total of 11 structures completely destroyed. The San Pedro Emergency Operations Committee has been up and running from 3a.m.”
Update June 27, 8:30 a.m.: Cleanup has already begun along Middle Street, which is closed from Elvi’s Restaurant onward. Check out the photos from San Pedro Scoop, linked below.
Update June 27: 8:44 a.m.: A call has been put out for donations of clothing, household goods and food for the fire victims who lost everything. No location has been given yet. If anyone hears of a location, please contact me.
Meanwhile, residents are encouraged to hit their closest and storage rooms and begin gathering anything you think may be helpful for the fire victims.