At least three forex bureaux and several business centers were razed to the ground at the corner of Carey and Randall Streets in Monrovia, destroying goods that owners say were worth thousands of United States dollars.
Residents told the Daily Observer that the fire began around 4 a.m. yesterday in one of the business centers and rapidly spread to nearby centers.
“It could be due to an electrical fault,” a resident said, “since there are electrical connections done in the area, and I suspect strongly that it was due to something like that.”
The Daily Observer gathered that when the fire started, it quickly spread to other buildings that traded in clothes and shoes. Three forex bureaus were also razed.
Residents said the fire was so sudden that during the melee, when efforts were being made to save some of the goods, many people who came to assist instead made away with the goods they saved from the fire.
Though the headquarters of the Liberia National Fire Service is next door, along with the Civil Service Agency (CSA), the fire could not be controlled.
“It was such a confusing situation that people who came around did not know what to do,” a resident said.
He admitted that thousands of dollars’ worth of goods were destroyed and many of the businesses would have to start afresh, while many others will be burdened with debt.
Fire officers could not confirm the cause of the fire. Up to 3 p.m. yesterday, smoke still billowed from the debris while searchers rummaged for what they could salvage.
“It is just bad that fire can break out near the national fire service and nothing could be done to control it,” a resident said. “It means that maybe the national fire service is not well equipped to fight fire even in its own backyard.”
Fire service officials would not explain their proactive measures to fight fire in the city, but a source told the Daily Observer that the Fire Department has only four fire trucks to fight and control fire in Liberia.
“We cannot fight fire with our hands and neither can we risk our lives to control fire when we do not have adequate protection when fire breaks out,” our source said.
It may be recalled that a Fulani family perished on Gurley Street during the Ebola outbreak when firefighters could not break into the family’s residence because the doors were locked from the inside.
Gurley Street is a stone’s throw away from the headquarters of the Liberia National Fire Service.