Fire consumes elderly woman and house

By Marion Ali
Assistant Editor

Louise Berry, an 86 year-old woman who lived alone in a 10′ by 8′ wooden structure on Iguana Street, Belize City, died Thursday morning when flames consumed her while trying to get out of the burning place.
Berry’s step-sister, Gretel Lopez told the Reporter that her son woke her up and the family shortly after 1:00 a.m., shouting that Berry’s room was on fire. Lopez said she dashed outside and asked her son for her stepsister, but he shook his head, indicating she had already burned to death.
There are four other houses in the yard, but no one woke up in time to save the elderly woman’s life.

When fire fighters arrived at the scene, they found Berry’s burnt remains behind the door, according to Beresford Matura, operations officer for the Belize Fire Department.
Matura indicated that the Department is still investigating, but is leaning towards the conclusion that the fire was caused by a lit candle.
This supports Lopez’ account, that Berry had a habit of keeping candles lit, even though she had electricity supply from another house in the yard.
Lopez added the elderly woman was becoming forgetful with age, and she had to constantly monitor her to see what she was doing, particularly when she lit candles in the room.
Despite having four dogs in the yard, Lopez said she heard none of them bark when the fire was in progress.

Berry lived in the small room for about 10 years, according to Lopez, and every day she would go have her supper under another house in the yard withLopez. She did exactly that Wednesday evening, the last time she saw her alive.

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