It is indeed a tragedy that occurred over the weekend, where many residents of San Pedro lost their homes during an early morning fire that could have gutted an entire block in the Airstrip Area. Popular eatery, Neri’s Tacos along with five other buildings went up in flames. Efforts now commence to assist those who lost all their belongings.
The San Pedro Fire Department told Ambergris Today that it received information from the San Pedro Police Department about the blaze at 1:40 a.m. on Sunday, July 31. According to Fire Chief Jerome Garcia, at the time of the call there was only a temporary fire fighter on duty at the San Pedro Fire Station along with two volunteer fire fighters. Garcia explained that by the time they arrived to the scene the building was already engulfed by fire. The water supply of the fire truck (approx. 450 gallons of water) was quickly used but was no match for the huge blaze.
Mr. Garcia then explained that an off duty fire fighter heard about the fire and went to pick up the second fire truck and parked it by the Boat Yard, approximately 1,200 feet away to pump water from the lagoon to the fire truck at the sight of the fire.
According to Garcia this is what caused the delay for them to fight the fire since they had to connect all the hoses from one truck to another. He also explained that they had to do this as the nearby fire hydrant did not suffice to fight this huge fire.
Investigations revealed that the fire started at the kitchen at Neri’s Tacos Place and it started on the refrigerator presumably by an electrical fault. A total of five buildings that housed about 12 families were destroyed in two lots. None of the buildings were insured and no injuries or fatalities were reported.
Residents, especially neighbors of Neri’s Tacos, were clearly frustrated with the Fire Department and the San Pedro Police. Ambergris Today was told (and witnessed) accounts where individuals attempted to help the fire fighters and tried to organize a bucket brigade, but were pushed back by some of the police officers. What most could only do was watch as the firefighters attempted to get the second fire truck running and not being able to assist. The hoses were laid on the street and it took about 20 to 30 minutes for the firefighters to get the water running.
Island residents are indeed expressing their frustrations and shortcomings of the San Pedro Fire Department and their plea is that it gets much more needed professional firefighters, equipment and resources.
Fund Raising Efforts
A fundraiser drive was held on Sunday, July 31, at El Fogon Restaurants where clothes for women and children were collected, including some bed sheets, blankets and other food items. Presently clothes for men (young men and older 50+) is needed as well as any other kind assistance. The management and friends at El Fogon are not accepting any monetary donations. Currently, there are a few groups organizing fundraising events (including a radioton) which include the Reef Radio/Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. and the San Pedro Lions Club. Ambergris Today will keep you updated on the fundraising events shortly.
TMM will be setting up a table outside the office to receive boxed or bagged clothing and non-perishable food items from 8a.m. to 4p.m. Monday through Thursday of this week. TMM is located South of Tropic Air in front of The Palms. No cash donations please.