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August 02
11:54 2018
REPORTER:  Michelle Sutherland, News Staff -

A fire lit by a nine-year-old under a house on Fern Lane in Belize City on Wednesday afternoon may have resulted in the total destruction of the structure and its contents, leaving a family of five homeless and destroying twenty-one years of hard work and savings.

Ezbert Ramclam, his common-law wife and their three children ages six, ten and fourteen lost everything they owned, including their 20’ by 28’ plywood structure home to the deadly blaze which shot out of control at around 2:00 p.m. on August 1st, 2018.

When the Reporter visited the residence Wednesday evening Ramclam was seated in his yard staring at the rubble and smoke, nursing his right hand which was burned. His common-law-wife also received burn injuries to her leg.
Ramclam told the Reporter that prior to the blaze he noticed a lot of children playing in the yard and under his house. He instructed them to go home, but it seems that they never left. Shortly after, he and his common-law wife smelled smoke, but thought it was an ordinary brush fire.

When the scent of the smoke grew stronger and the wind picked up they noticed that the smoke was coming from under the house, and when they rushed downstairs they saw a sofa set already engulfed in flames.
Ramclam recounted that he quickly jumped into action and attempted to move the burning chair from under the house while he instructed his wife to get a big quilt to smother the flames. But the burning sofa would not budge and soon the flames started licking at the bottom of the house and eventually spread to the entire structure.

The devastated house-owner says that in a frenzy he ran upstairs to look for his family’s identification cards, birth-papers, money and other valuable documents, but couldn’t find any of them. He then tried to pack some clothes for the kids but was chased out the room by thick smoke. He retreated into the living room where he attempted to pry his flat screen television from the wall, but was again forced outside empty-handed.

“A lot of kids were in the yard. Some were under the house and I am not afraid to say it. One of them lit a chair that was under my house with a lighter and that is what caused my house to burn. The kids are from the neighborhood. The one who started the fire is the oldest out of the bunch. He is about nine. He is a big kid, but he did not intentionally do it, it was just kids playing.”

While fire-fighters frequently take heat where fires are concerned, Ramclam explained that he was very satisfied with the haste with which the firefighters responded, since it prevented his mother’s house from catching fire.
As we left the scene, Ramclam told us – “In 15 minutes, twenty-one years went just like that. One breeze, one fire, all of it gone!”

The estimated value of the house and its content is about fifty thousand dollars, and Ramclam is seeking the public’s assistance to help him get back on his feet before the new school year starts so he can send his children to school and have a roof over their head by that time. They are also asking for materials of any kind to rebuild and can be contacted at phone number 602-7962.

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