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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.

Frustrated Residents
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 Assistance
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.

Community Works On Aid For Fire VictimsCommunity Works On Aid For Fire VictimsFive buildings totally destroyed by fire.Five buildings totally destroyed by fire.Five buildings totally destroyed by fire.Fire victims going throw the rubble.

Sofia's picture



  1. avatar

    I watched in horror from the moment the fire got out of control and inched its way closer to my home and from a first hand experience gained new insight into a lot of things I hadn't noticed before.

    For one, I noticed that if it was not for the selfless effort of family, good friends, neighbors and samaritans, I too could have lost everything, but I also realize that the firefighter did respond within a reasonable time and although they had a few "hiccups", these young men were able to stop it from become a much larger catastrophe. 

    I stood a few feet behind these firefighter as they battled the blazing fire, trying to keep it from spreading. I could feel the intense heat, so I finally withdrew giving up and thinking, that they were not going to be able to fight the fire and i would eventually loose my home.

    I remember, standing in another location, behind another set of firefighters who were trying to contain the fire from spreading to my next door neighbour's home, and as they struggled among the trees and all other obstructions behind the yard, someone yelled for them to move out because there was a  gas tank on the porch of the house they were trying to save. Because of the intense heat and the fire moving quickly, there was a potential that the tank would explode, but even under this threat, those boys stood their ground and was able to contain the fire enough for it not to spread.

    After what seem as an eternity, they regained some control over the fire and one of them emerged tired and hot. As he walk by I offered him a cup of water, which he most gratiously accepted, and gave him thanks for his valient efforts. He said thanks and said miss "You are the first to say thank you. most people at this point have offered nothing more than insults".

    I later watched, from the comfort of my bedroom window, for half an hour while the firefighter stood amoung smoking rubles, trying to estinguish small fires. He had on no facemask, no headgear and a slippers on his foot.

    From talking to a few of them afterward, I found out that one had his tennis shoe stolen from the inside the truck when they arrived at the scene and another got his bike stolen five minute after arriving as well!

    I realized that these boys, having to go to work the following morning, had left their families at home; some of them volunteering, had rushed off to help, with limited experience, limited equipment and little public support,, risking their lives to save MY home and the home of others.  

    Even though I sympatize with those who have lost everything, I am grateful and have developed the utmost respect for the young men of our Fire Department and thier chief.  It is thier efforts that prevented a larger disaster from happening. I believe that the fire chief could use a bit more help from the police department by getting perimiters secured for them to work.

    I hope that we can somehow help with the training and equipment to bring our firefighter up to standards.

    Alma & Carlo Segura


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