Two nurses among the dead
By Tina S. Mehnpaine (Intern)
Barely a week after a house fire near the Paynesville City Hall took the lives of three girls, another fire, this time in the The R.C Lawson Community in Congo Town, has claimed four.
was on early Friday, January 17, 2020, overwhelmed by weeping and grief when fire gutted a residential building and left four persons dead.
Four of the occupants, however, were fortunate to escape through the help of community dwellers, according to eyewitnesses.
The fire incident, which eyewitnesses said occurred at 1:00. a.m on Friday, January 17, was reportedly caused by an unquenched fire left in a coal-pot.
The vast majority of residents in Liberia use charcoal as their primary source of energy for cooking, followed by gas.
Those who died in the fire include Sandra Nico, age 30 and Pamela Jackson, 25, both of them nurses and graduates of the Seventh Day Adventist University of West Africa (AUWA); Roland Kander, 13, and Joshua Brooks, 14.
Neighbors in the community wept profusely, especially imagining the roles of Sandra and Pamela in their lives. In their sorrowful testimonies, the local residents remembered the two women for their constant health assistance to them. ”They used to give us free treatment whenever we were sick,” said tearful Mary Bolleh.
Yallah Moibah, chairman of the community, narrated that he was asleep and was awakened by the sound of Sandra’s voice, crying out for help: “fire, fire, fire, my people yor come for us,” prompting him, along with other community dwellers, who ran outside to help.
According to him, upon reaching the scene, the fire had become huge and uncontrollable. “The smoke became too much that we could not help all, but we managed to rescue four persons,” said Moibah.
“We called the Liberia National Fire Service to come to our aid, but we were informed that there was no fuel in the trucks to help at the moment,” Moibah continued.
He expressed disappointment over the LNFS’s turndown of call for help; stressing that the disaster claimed the lives of young people whose contributions to the community were very impactful.
He said the death of the family has left a wide gap in the community only because of the government’s failure to protect and provide those basic social services for its citizens.
“The National Fire Service (LNFS) was established to safeguard life and property from the scourge of destructive fire, across the length and breadth of the country, as well as to promote efficient fire prevention services. How can they make such a frustrating statement?” Joseph Tweh said.
Even though the LNFS did not make any attempt to reach the scene on excuse of lack of fuel for fire trucks, Henry O. Williams, Executive Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDM), said that there is a need for people to build houses properly and in the right place, so as to provide ease of access for a fire service team to get there on time.
“We will work with the National Fire Service to promote efficient fire prevention services, firefighting methods and practices in keeping with international standards; encourage, pursue, and maintain the exchange of ideas, and good working relationship with LNFS,” he said.
According to him, the inability of the Fire Service to access roads to get to homes is one of the major factors that contribute to fire disasters in Monrovia.
“We want to urge the Liberia National Fire Service to develop a program that will enlighten people on the use of fire extinguishers in their various homes to prevent fire disaster. We also want the government, donors and international partners to help support such a venture so that all citizens can afford the fire extinguisher,” said NDM Director Williams.