Police and fire service investigators are yet to determine the cause of a fire outbreak yesterday which consumed two zinc shacks, rendering more than 30 residents homeless in New Kru Town, Monrovia.
Mr. Harris Sokan, chairman of the community affected by the fire, Block A in the Borbor Garage section of New Kru Town, took journalists around and expressed regret about the disaster.
Victim Asatu Konneh told the Daily Observer on the scene after the incident that she was in a nearby restroom when she heard calls outside that a house was on fire.
“I came outside to see that it was the house where I lived and so I joined others to rush into the house to try to take any item that could be saved,” she said. “The fire was so big that I could not save anything from my room.”
She said her market money in the amount of about L$20,000 was lost in the flames. “I have nothing left and I don’t know how I am going to make a living,” she lamented.
Eyewitnesses could neither confirm nor deny whether there was any human casualty. “A lot of children lived in the two houses but what I can confirm is that a dog died in the fire,” an eyewitness said.
Another victim who said he lost personal effects and cash in the amount of L$50,000 was Mr. Cornelius Wah. “I lost everything and I will have to start all over,” he said.
Mr. Wah could hardly express his shock because he had left the house early in the morning, and returned later on only to find that “everything was gone.”
The Daily Observer learned that the fire initially began in a room belonging to one resident identified as Kotie, before rapidly spreading to the rest of the house and leaping on to the second dwelling.
A neighbor said a resident in one of the gutted houses was in “Cold Bowl business,” but could not confirm if the woman was selling before the fire outbreak.
Many of the residents who returned to find their dwellings gone were in shock and the women in particularly broke down and wept.
“Where they will sleep is my worry right now,” said Chairman Sokan in a consoling voice. “We need emergency relief for these people.”
He called on the Liberia National Red Cross Society and other humanitarian groups in the country to help his community restore some hope to the homeless.
“They can contact me on 0775-717-070 to arrange relief for the victims,” he said. “I also want Liberian politicians, including lawmakers and presidential aspirants, to identify with us because we need everybody’s help.”
A team of fire service officers arrived on the scene after the fire had completed its devastation. A team of police officers also arrived on the scene.
Fire outbreaks are frequent in slum communities where many houses were constructed with zinc in the 60s and 70s.
Infrastructural modernization seems to have left slum communities, including Clara Town, West Point, Popo Beach and the Borough of New Kru Town behind in the 21st Century; and residents, being poor, and many living on US$1 a day, have accepted their lot in life.
Residents say many politicians roam their communities begging for votes, with promises to turn their lives around. “But when they are elected that becomes the end of our relationship.”
Meanwhile the slum communities are the stronghold of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) that is now in a coalition with two other parties. Many dreamed that a CDC government would have changed the future of their communities for the better. But even with their most popular politician now in the
Senate, there are still no visible signs that can convince them that their expectations of better living conditions are realistic.