-6 critically injured, stores, houses and C.H. Rennie Hospital destroyed
Liberia was hard-hit over the weekend by fire disaster, as fire outbreak razed down several residential places and couple of stores within the commercial enclave of Water Street, as well as the C.H. Rennie Hospital situated in the south of Kakata City, Margibi County, that was gutted by fire early Sunday, 15 August.
Reports from the C.H. Rennie fire incident are scanty, but Women Voices newspaper has so far been able to verify that there was no casualty in that part of the country.
However, Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) boss, Col. Alex Dickson, told Women Voices in a telephone interview that at least six persons got wounded in the Central Monrovia fire incident that took place during the early evening hours of last Friday.
Women Voices newspaper has independently established that a gasoline tanker belonging to the Liberian owned petroleum company, AMINATA, lost control and summersaulted along the route leading from Buchanan Street veering the corner of Front Street, and tumbled over to the densely populated commercial hub of Water Street.
The gasoline tanker accident caused panic among business people and residents of the area, according to eyewitnesses, as “gas spillage from the crashed tanker enflamed heavy fire, leading to the destruction of about nine stores, a three bed-room residential building and a shop right under the Front Street Bridge, which the crashing tanker landed upon”, according to Fire Chief Dickson.
A visit to the Monrovia fire outbreak scene brought Women Voices face to face with several victims and eyewitnesses alike, as Dialing Soumie, a victim of the disastrous fire outbreak, said they were informed by a friend that a gasoline-carrying tanker truck was rolling from up the (Buchanan Street’s) hill and was coming down to their house due to mechanical deficiency.
She indicated that to their utmost surprised, the tanker fell on houses, including the one they were residing.
Madam Soumie disclosed that the wounded were taken to Joyance Health Center, where she said at the time they were currently undergoing medical treatment.
She lamented that within the three houses that got destroyed by the fire incident, one of the houses had ten occupants with eight of such occupants getting critically wounded, while an occupant of the other house also getting injured.
The fire victim narrated that they were unable to take any of their belongings out of their burnt house due to the severity of the fire disaster.
Also speaking to Women Voices, a Liberian businessman, a father of five, James Sackie, owner of the Sacqwina Business Center, said his entire business got consumed by the fire, adding that all of his goods and monies stored in the place were burnt to ashes.
Mr. Sackie said he is involved in the importation of second-hand shoes, lamenting that all were gutted by the Friday’s fire outbreak.
“I had four 450 bills of shoes that got destroyed, including money, just within a short space of time,” he lamented.
Mr. Sackie asserted that presently, he needs a counselor who will counsel him and others who are victims of the weekend’s fire disaster.
Sackie, who appeared frustrated over the destruction of his business center and loss of goods and money by the fire outbreak, stated that his business center was not insured, therefore, calling on the Liberian government to come to his aide in providing assistance to start afresh.
Mr. Sackie: “I am a Liberian who started this business with one bill of use clothes and it reached this level and got destroyed.’’
He is also calling on Liberia’s international partners and the Red Cross Society to help him recover from what he described as a shock.
“I am a father of five living children – we are depending on this business and today, I am down to nothing, I have no source of income this is the time for the Government to come to my aide,” he pleaded.
Also speaking to Women Voices was a female victim, Alice Johnson, who intimated that she lost all of her goods due to the fire disaster.
Madam Johnson told Women Voices that prior to the fire outbreak, she was dealing in African dresses and slippers, in front of one of the business centers that were gutted by fire last Friday.
She explained that her almost seven thousand United States dollars’ worth of goods is no more, lamenting that this situation has thrown her back, requiring her to start all over again.
At the same time, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee was seen interacting with the fire victims in Central Monrovia, following interventions of the LNFS in putting off the fire.
Speaking to the victims and the media, Mayor Koijee said the Government through the National Disaster Management will intervene shortly.
According to him, the Ministry of Public Works and the Monrovia City Corporation will work together to build a defense that will prevent the reoccurrence of such disaster.
He called on authorities of the Ministry of Transport and the Liberia National Police to put into place a system that will prevent defective trucks from plying the streets.
Meanwhile, multiple eyewitnesses informed Women Voices that the driver of the AMINATA-owned gasoline truck that crashed, leading to the fire disaster, escaped the scene unharmed.
All efforts to get officials of the AMINATA including the identity and location of the driver of the crashed truck proved futile, as AMINATA security officers informed this paper that their bosses were indisposed.