The Executive Club on Lynch Street and two adjacent houses were early Tuesday morning gutted by fire which destroyed the entire property including the last floor of the three storey building housing the club and a restaurant.
The 2 a.m. fire, which residents said was caused by a candle that 13-year old Rodney Johnson left unattended in the adjacent rented apartment. About two hours later, the fire spread to an adjacent three-room house, which also contained a provision shop, owned and operated by Mohammed Alpha Jalloh, 39.
The fire also gutted the upper floor of the Executive Club that James Kwesi Aggray, 54, had constructed in the area with entertainment compartments – burning the upper floor completely, as well as Jalloh’s belongings before the arrival of firefighters from the Liberian National Fire Service and their counterparts from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The firefighters were later joined by a pick-up full of officers from the Liberian National Police.
“I was awoken by a loud noise from the backyard when the fire, which was reportedly lighted in one of the rented rooms of the 12-room house next to mine, had already spread all over including even to my house. I lost everything in the flames, including the goods that were in my shop, except for the short pair of trousers that was on me,” Jalloh lamented.
Jalloh, who failed to open the door to his room because of the intensity of the fire, is now worried about how to cater to his wife and their four children.
One of those victimized by the fire disaster, Prince Henry Siaffa, 29, is a renter in the 12-room house. Siaffa sadly narrated how Rodney’s mother, who he identified as Teta Johnson, returned from the streets about 1 a.m. that fateful Tuesday, only to tell her son to light a candle to sleep, because she was not coming home until Wednesday, November 29, the holiday of President William V.S. Tubman’s birthday.
Siaffa said not long after Ms Johnson left for the streets, the boy fell asleep only to wake up when the candle had fallen to the floor starting the fire.
He and other renters including a pregnant woman, Sonita Kiazolu, 35, lost everything they owned including their money in the fire.
“Thank God that none of the occupants died, but we are yet as of daylight Tuesday, to locate the whereabouts of the Ms. Johnson, who reportedly emerged from the dark, when the flame had intensified and sped away with her son,” Siaffa told the Daily Observer in tears.
Siaffa’s other regret is the way criminals made away with some of what was left of their personal belongings that they had saved from the fire.
Kwesi Aggray said his club contained 16 rooms with several other apartments that included a pool and restaurant.
“At the moment, I am confused and therefore I am unable to speak to the press,” Aggray said, while looking all over for some of his most important items that he might have lost to the criminals who pretended to be firefighters, according to eyewitnesses.