Employees at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as those who have gone there to transact businesses were yesterday ruffled out of the building by security officers when the left wing was gutted by fire.
The flames, according to onlookers, gutted the Lonestar Cell MTN communication server room within the Ministry, destroying the electrical panel box.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire disaster started from the electrical panel box, located on the Ministry’s fourth floor, which hosts the offices of Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara and her Deputy for Foreign Affairs, B. Elias Shoniyin.
It is revealed that both of them were in the building when it was noticed that that room was on fire, but thanks to the quick intervention of the security, they were rescued.
It is also reported that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was in her 6th floor office when the fire was reported. Our sources said the President, who usually stays in the building doing her work late into the night, had to be whisked off early from the building by officers of
Executive Protective Service (EPS) upon notice of the incident.
Meanwhile, firefighters who rushed to the scene to help bring the fire under control were assisted by onlookers.
“The situation was quickly brought under control in less than two hours,” one of our sources stated.
However, our sources could not emphatically state if any damage was caused to the GSM service provider’s equipment or the infrastructure of the Ministry. Up to press time, it was not clear to what extent the fire caused damage to the building.
An employee of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, which is also housed within the Foreign Ministry building, told the Daily Observer that she and some of her colleagues came running down the stairs from the 6th, 5th and 4th floors with their footwear in their hands when the alarm was set-off.
“After the President left the building the EPS officers told everyone to hurriedly leave the building,” she said.
This is the second time fire has occurred in the Foreign Ministry building. An earlier fire occurred few years ago in the records department of the Ministry, but was brought under control without much damage to the building.
It may be recalled that on July 26, 2006, during the celebration of Liberia’s 159th independence anniversary, which also marked President Sirleaf’s first year in office, the fourth floor of the Executive Mansion was gutted by fire.
At the time, foreign guests, including three West African Heads of State, were in the country.
Since that incident, President Sirleaf moved her office to the 6th Floor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she has since remained.