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Fighting Fires Years Ago in San Pedro Village

By Angel Nuñez

The recent unfortunate fire at Ramon’s Village Resort raised a few concerns like “thatch houses are vulnerable to fires” and “why have to resort to a bucket brigade?”  My story today in Twenty Five Years Ago will disprove this.

Many years ago in San Pedro every house and every kitchen in San Pedro was built of pimento or palmetto sticks with a thatch roof. Furthermore, the mode of cooking was by way of the fire hearth or ‘fogon’. Those of you who know how a fire hearth functions know that there are a lot of live and large flames, and many times lots of sparks when fanning the fire. With this you would have thought that there was bound to be many fires in the little village of San Pedro.  

However, I can safely say that there were indeed very few fires caused by these normal conditions. In fact the very few fires that we had in San Pedro many years ago have practically been forgotten. The very first one that I can recollect was a very small thatch house belonging to Mr. Adriano Ramirez where Belize Bank is today. It was funny but the whole village was at the Scout’s Room which was part of the Church building. It was about seven at night and they were looking at a government documentary film which we used to call a movie. It was during this movie that someone hollered “Fire”, and hell broke loose. People were jumping windows and those on the stairs also jumped off or fell off in the pandemonium.  Obviously people thought that the fire was at the Scout Room. The fire was one block and a half away on Front Street and when we got there one wall was on fire and climbing. Immediately the men formed the bucket brigade while one or two climbed unto the roof with sticks to beat the advancing flames. Unbelievably, the fire was put out in a few minutes with about one half of the small hut burnt. This fire was probably caused by a mouse knocking down a candle which was used for lighting at that time.

The second one happened during the Christmas season on Back Street (now middle street Pescador Drive) at the site of San Carlos’ Medical Clinic.  Actually boys were playing with sparklers and throwing them in the air to look like falling stars and shouting with happiness. One such sparkler fell on top of Mrs.Tolosa’s hut and the boys became so scared that they ran for their lives, actually to avoid a good lashing. This small fire was put out in similar fashion- with bucket brigade and with men beating on the roof with sticks.

A village full of thatch yet very few fires

In both cases it only took family members a few days to go into the bush up north to cut some more palmetto leaves and the huts were soon rebuilt and good to go and boasting a brand new roof, unlike the rest of the huts of the village. Thus I say that thatch roof houses are no more susceptible to fires as are wooden houses or any other inflammable material. Another thatch roof fire happened more recently around 1985 when remnants of fireworks accidentally fell on Fido’s rooftop during a Mother’s Day celebration. Well duh, even your clothes would light up if that should happen. By the way, this is not a theory, but simply my observations and opinion. On that same note I do not criticize the bucket brigade at Ramon’s as someone did, but rather praise and thank the staff and others who fought like heroes with the bucket brigade, which is a part of San Pedro’s culture- a culture of unity.  

A village full of thatch yet very few fires

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
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