Saturday, July 20, 2024

Electrical failure is the cause of Ramon’s Village Resort fire


On August 27th a large portion of the world renowned Ramon’s Village Resort on Ambergris Caye was destroyed by a horrific fire. Nearly four weeks later, the Belize Fire Department is reporting that their investigation concludes that the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction.
Ramon's Village Rebuilding 1According to Orin Smith, Station Officer and lead fire investigator, the fire started in cabaña number 14 and not in number 15 as was initially reported. “Our investigation has concluded and has determined that the fire originated in cabaña 14. What transpired is that the two structures were very close to each other, and from the view of many, who saw the fire, it was thought that it started in structure 15. While investigating we found that the fire started on the roof of cabaña 14. The cause of the fire was classified as electrical due to evidence of “beading through arcing” (evidence of a melted conductor that was exposed to a certain temperature during the fire sufficient to cause melting) that was discovered on a wire that provided electricity to a ceiling fan in the cabaña. None of the other wires had evidence of arcing or beading,” said Smith. The total estimated cost of the damages has not been revealed, but according to Smith, because the fire was not “arson,” no one can be held responsible and it is classified as an accident.
When asked about the criticism from local residents about the apparent lack of efficient firefighting techniques on the day of the fire, Smith said that there are a lot of things that people should factor in when evaluating what happened. “Based on the material used for the building and factoring the proximity of the structures and the information gathered from witness, even though we responded promptly, several cabañas were already on fire at the arrival of our first unit (fire truck). What compounded the situation is that the fire truck, like other units anywhere in the world, only carries a limited amount of water. Based on the material that was burning and the quickness that it was burning with, you cannot get much out of a single pump truck.”
Smith indicated that it is fires like the one at Ramon’s Resort that should prompt decision making people to re-evaluate the development plan for Ambergris Caye. “The hydrant system on the island is not one that can support a large fire of that magnitude. And although the island is surrounded by water, development impedes access to the water sources. The fire truck had to travel over a 1000 feet from the actual fire just to shoot water to the fire. The truth is that any development should involve input from the fire department so that adequate provisions can be implemented for effective firefighting in the case of an emergency,” he explained. Smith ended by indicating that the fire department encourages everyone who owns buildings and businesses to comply with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in terms of the wiring of buildings.

And while the Fire Department’s investigation has concluded, the resort continues to recover; offering accommodations and tours via undamaged structures. According to a representative of the Ramon’s Village Resort, full recovery is expected to be completed on December 20th, in time for the Christmas season. They have over 100 people employed as the cleanup and regeneration efforts are ongoing to meet schedule.

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