Occupants of a three-storey building near the corner of Carey and Gurley streets in Monrovia woke up early yesterday to a bizarre scene of a fire incident that left at least a family of eight dead.
Their remains, which have been already been buried according to their Islamic tradition, were burnt beyond recognition.
However, the deceased were identified as Babien Sow, a Fula businessman, his wife, four children and two extended family members who recently joined them from Guinea, according to Amadur Barry, who happens to be Sow’s cousin. Prior to his death early yesterday, had reportedly returned from a mineral-related business trip to Luanda, the capital of Angola, said Barry, who wept uncontrollably for the loss of his relatives.
The Sow family occupied one of the two apartments on the third floor of the building that also housed their businesses and other activities.
The other apartment, which was also gutted by fire, was occupied by the Sheriff family, all of whom barely escaped. Sheriff’s two daughters, Tatta, 16, and Omu, 17, explained in separate but tearful narratives, they that their parents with other relatives were asleep when the fire gutted their apartment. Though all of them survived, their mother sustained injuries. They were all taken to different local health posts where they were treated and discharged.
The fire also destroyed several thousand United States dollars worth of property as well as bundles of cash, both in Liberian and US currency, all of which were reportedly stored in a compartment of the upper floor by families of Sheriff and the late Sow.
Emmanuel T. Pello, owner of E-Man Business Center, located on the ground floor of the burned building, expressed fear for this wares since the fire had started from the top floor.
According to him, it was around 4:00 a.m. when he tried to contact family members of the Ambassador John Gbeisaye, who he claimed owns the building, but to no avail.
The incident, which occurred around 3:30 a.m. Thursday, brought several horrified residents and squads of Liberian National Police (LNP) officers to the scene.
Eyewitnesses wished that if the LNP had been equipped with search and rescue equipment, they would have made quick intervention to save the deceased family in time before the late arrival of personnel from the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS).
Although they arrived too late to prevent the tragedy, they were later joined by their counterparts from the Liberian Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC) before the situation was brought under control after an hour-long struggle to quench the flames.
Up to press time, the cause of the fire has not yet been established.