Fire Disaster Leaves Shop Owner in Tears


A provision shop owner in Johnsonville, outside Monrovia, left in total distress and teary mood on Monday morning when fire gutted the shop and completely destroyed goods, money, and other personal belongings worth over US$10,000.

The shop known as “Prince Booth” is owned and operated by Menker Cewhy Kwanue, the junior son of Daily Observer former Editor, Cewhy Kwanue.

Menker told the Daily Observer that the fire which started about 4:45 a.m. on Monday, January 18, 2012, would be blamed on electrical shock from a power generator, which according to him his brother known as Prince forgot to put off before going to bed.”

He said the fire started from the phone charging compartment within the shop.

Menker lamented loosing everything that was in the shop, including goods, laptops, phones and other valuable items.

He said that almost all the residents that went to sympathize with him had phones on charge, but were consumed by the blaze.

“I had about 100 pieces of phones on charge here and all got damaged. In fact, people, who are coming to tell me sorry were having their phones on charge, and I don’t know what to tell them,” he said.

Menker said he also lost US$600, which he had kept in the shop to purchase some goods from the Ivory Coast.

“This business was something that all my families depended on, and to see it destroyed completely shows that the whole family has broken-down. Just today I supposed to send money to one of my relatives to the Tapitta Hospital in Nimba County, but could not make it. It means the other person will not have proper treatment,” he said in tears.

“It’s only Jehovah God who knows where we would sleep and eat until we can recover, because I have lost everything to the fire. So, I am pleading to people of goodwill to help me,” he cried.

Eyewitnesses confirmed to this paper how everything that was in the shop got amaged.

“We all saw the fire blazing, but we could not do anything about the flames because at the time all the goods have already been damaged. Almost everything is destroyed running into thousands of United States Dollar. It’s a very sad situation,” said an eyewitness.

Some of the residents, however, resorted to quenching the flames with sachet water under a confused state of mind but to no avail.

“The fire was not worse from the onset, but we have no stream or creek around the area to fetch from to fight the advancing flames,” a resident said.


  1. This must be a very painful and heartwrenching experience not only for this family, but this community as well, in terms of losing one easy access for general provisions. That, along with whatever the aesthetic and semblance of “modernization” that store exuded. Incidentally, experiences or disasters like this are what other people, communities, countries will use as advisories on what practical steps to take next and immediately, in terms of forestalling similar disasters from ever catching them unprepared, or with their pants down again.

    These are experiences that serve as eye-openers for the need to equip city-governments with the tools, even if just something basic or rudimentary from the start, but something to prevent or tackle these inevitable social calamities from overtaking families or communities so callously, as the case may be.

    This disaster could have been averted or minimized somehow and from the accounts of by-standers, that is, if a remedy like a firebrigade was available and came to the rescue. But when our capital city, the seat of our national government with all our ministries and important documents, with all our foreign embassies, major hospitals, electric house, etc., has only one or two fire trucks, that epitomizes why communities like Johnsonville will continue to thrive only at the mercy of God.

    It is one thing to say, “the firetruck came late, or the ambulance arrived late, or the police arrived late, etc. That is, if such mechanisms are in place in the first place and functioning. The next course of action as such would be, improvement in the timeliness of the response for future disaster. Regrettably for citizens all across Liberia like the people in Johnsonville, “Aye yah!” “Aye mehn!” “Aye laud!” has been and continues to be their man-made fate from 1847 to present.

    Yet we have a national government with a president, representatives, senators, ministers, directors, city mayors, etc., etc. People who are not volunteers but are on payrolls for providing the leadership, oversight and implementation of the requisite social services for the good and welfare of society at large.

    But do these people care? Only when it affects any of them personally, or when it is election season again. See how long, for example, it will take before anyone will even show up to assess this situation for whatever the future reference, be it from the firebrigade, the city mayor’s office, superintendent’s office, a senator/representative whose constituency encompasses Johnsonville, just as anyone or people concerned about this calamity and paused to do something about preventing its recurrence in Johnsonville, or anywhere else across Liberia. That’s exactly what anyone or group of people concerned about the development of their coutry would do. We will be watching, not holding our breath though.


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