It was only a couple of weeks ago that two hotels located on the beach on the island of Holbox caught on fire and burned to the point of being completely unsalvageable. Thankfully, no tourists or employees suffered major injuries during the incident, but the loss of the hotels and the situation tourists were faced with did provoke officials to address the reasons for the fire getting so out of hand. Now, plans to build a new fire station in Holbox have been set in motion since these two recent fires took place.
Holbox Hotel Fires
During the night on November 28, both the Casa Tortuga and the Posada Mawimbi caught on fire, one catching fire first and then spreading to the other. According to reports, the cause of the fire was possibly a gas tank explosion, but regardless of the cause, it brought to the forefront the lack of services on the island to deal with this type of emergency. In fact, some may be shocked to find out that Holbox doesn’t have a formal fire station at all and had to rely on help from other nearby areas to extinguish the blaze.
Immediately following the fire, criticism began to rise to the surface, indicating that this is an issue that has long been discussed but not yet addressed. And it didn’t take long for officials to concede that something must be done sooner rather than later. At the time, Emir Bellos Tun, municipal president of Lázaro Cárdenas, proclaimed that “having the fire station, which the population has been requesting for a long time, will allow us to have a much more effective response time to safeguard not only people’s assets but also their lives.”
Between the two hotels, there were approximately 100 American and European tourists with accommodations, many of which had all of their belongings, including necessary travel documents, destroyed by the fire. When the Governor of the state of Quintana Roo, Mara Lezama, learned this, she vowed to offer aid to the tourists in replacing the necessary documents and paperwork needed to travel. Alternative shelter was also immediately found and provided for the displaced tourists.
This is not the first time that a fire has occurred on the island of Holbox that has led to the evacuation of a large group of tourists. In July of this year, an electrical fire caused the Amaite Hotel and Spa to catch on fire, resulting in the evacuation of more than 80 people. Residents on the island were alerted of the blaze by a local church bell, and many ran to help with extinguishing the flames.
In addition to the lack of services in Holbox, the design of the buildings themselves, some say, contribute to the fire hazard issue too. Dried palm fronds are used to make the roofs on many of these properties and are quick to ignite and spread once a fire starts. While these roofs are a common and very charming characteristic of Caribbean architecture, they can also become a major problem when a fire occurs.
When talk of a new fire station began to surface immediately following the most recent hotel fires, there was no mention of any sort of timeframe. Only two weeks later, though, the deeds necessary to build the Holbox fire station were delivered to the Secretary of Government. These are the first steps to be taken to move the project forward.
The news that steps toward building the fire station are being taken will hopefully allow residents and visitors on the island to breathe just a little sigh of relief, knowing the issue will finally be addressed.
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