Early Morning Fire Strikes Belize Resort Town
PHOTO: San Pedro's Palapa Bar is among the businesses collecting donations for fire victims. (Photo by Brian Major)
The popular Belize resort town of San Pedro is seeking to recover from an early morning fire that gutted nearly an entire block of the downtown district Monday. The blaze began shortly after midnight and swept through homes, businesses and apartment complexes, ultimately razing 11 buildings, according to press reports from Belize.
The fire is believed to have started in a small structure in the center of the district along Pescador Drive, reaching Buccaneer Street and ultimately gutting or damaging 17 buildings including 14 businesses. In addition, 88 people were displaced by the fire.
No casualties were reported, but several injured people were reported to have suffered from wounds, cuts, bruises and smoke inhalation while assisting in firefighting efforts. San Pedro’s fire department responded to the blaze and was assisted by more than 1,000 volunteers who formed a “bucket brigade” that aided in bringing the fire under control at around 4 a.m. according to local reports. The blaze was described by local police as “an act of arson.”
Local organizations and businesses are providing assistance to impacted residents. San Pedro’s town council is meeting with local non-governmental organizations and volunteers to coordinate relief efforts. Local air carrier Tropic Air has opened its cargo section, allowing residents in other parts of Belize to send supplies to San Pedro residents free of charge. The Palapa Bar is one of several local businesses accepting donations for fire victims.
The latest fire recalls a 2013 blaze that destroyed most of the popular Ramon’s Village Resort. The fire razed the resort and also cut electrical power to the island for nearly an hour. The resort has since been rebuilt. Much like Belize itself, San Pedro’s small-scale tourism scene is undergoing a transformation.
Hilton Worldwide officials recently announced the company will launch a new 205-room resort, the Resort at Mahogany Bay Village, in San Pedro in 2017. When open the property will become San Pedro’s first major hotel brand. Last year SouthWest and COPA Airlines each launched regular flights to Belize’s Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport.
Last year Belize hosted 341,124 overnight arrivals, a 6.3 percent increase over 2014. While the country’s 957,975 cruise ship arrivals were a one percent decline from 2014, they still ranked the country eighth in cruise traffic among the 24 countries tracked by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
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