Monday, February 02, 2009

Belize Mission Trip: The Fire

On Sunday, the final morning that we were in Belize, I went outside the hotel in order to go pick up the laundry from the night before. I had my camera with me, and I snapped a couple of shots of the rising sun. When I turned around to head towards the laundromat, I saw smoke billowing in the distance. Although emissions regulations in Belize aren't quite what they are here in the USA, I was pretty sure that this was not someone burning trash or anything like that. The smoke was heavy and dark, and from the looks of it, whatever was burning hadn't been at it for long, but was already going strong: there was a building on fire. I decided that I should check it out. Who knows what might happen in a fire in a developing country? I was prepared to help if needed, and if not, well, I had my camera. I snapped a few shots as I approached the blaze. There were plenty of others curious to see the fire as well. As I arrived, a smattering of onlookers took up posts at a safe distance. As I was en route, I had heard and seen a fire engine on its way. When I arrived, the firemen were already running hoses, and soon they were spraying the burning house. Nearby, from a power pole there were crackles and pops as a live power line dangled, burning. I decided to reposition myself, so I cut across someone's front yard to avoid danger. I was now between the river and the blaze, and quite a bit closer than before. The residents of the neighboring house were busy dousing their exterior wall with buckets of water. The plastic rain gutters and pipes were melted and deformed, and the wall was steaming. Their house, unlike the one on fire made of wood, looked like it was constructed from cement blocks. The firemen had run a hose out to the river and someone turned it on without checking to see if anyone was holding the other end. I decided to move away from the head of the hose. Others got the same idea, and we shouted and signaled that they should turn the hose off. The burning house collapsed in on itself. By now, the firemen were making headway, and soon they had the blaze under control and the fire was diminishing. I headed back to the hotel, along with Angela and Troy, kids from our group who had followed me.
On my way to check out the fire The burning house Onlookers Bye-bye, Belize

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