Health Authorities Still Tightlipped on Cause of JFK Fire

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JFK NDS on fire

By C.Y. Kwanue and Joaquin Sendolo

Health authorities are yet to disclose the cause of last Tuesday night’s fire disaster that gutted the John F. Kennedy Medical Center’s only drug testing laboratory and its Cholera Unit.

During the incident, doctors, nurses and patients were evacuated to another area by security guards. There were no human casualties reported.

As of late yesterday evening, the Ministry of Health’s Communications Department could not ascertain the cause of the fire, but said they were continuing the investigation into the incident.

Public Affairs Director Sorbor George confirmed to this newspaper that the cholera and NDS departments, along with the country’s only drugs testing laboratory, were lost to the fire.

Mr. George said the laboratory was used by the hospital to test the qualities and usefulness of all medicines entering the country before they were dispatched to health centers across the country.

“The public should be assured of government’s preparedness to supply drugs to all health facilities from other sources, either from outside or from within,” he said.

The fire started at 9 p.m. on Tuesday night and took firefighters more than three hours to put out, a source at the hospital said.

Eyewitnesses said heavy volumes of smoke and fire sent residents on the 20th and 24th Streets looking for help, and many joined neighbors to put out the fire.

Firefighters, including officers of the Liberia National Police and UN firefighting officers, also joined the effort to put out the fire.

Up to yesterday morning, firefighting trucks from the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) were still moving to the scene to ensure that everything was under control.

There were also reports that the hospital’s electrical panel boxes and several important documents including patients’ medical records as well as some recently donated medical supplies from partners were also destroyed.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This fire is very fishy. I hope it is not a cover-up for the corrupt NDS. I am very skeptical but will wait for an investigative report to the public before my view is spell out.

  2. Although conventional wisdom holds that where there is smoke there is fire, let’s maintain an open mind until JFK officials receive a final report from the joint fire services which battled the fire. Incidentally, it is standard practice for mutiple fire sevices to respond to a single fire incident. So that UNMIL helped isn’t anything our fire service should be ashamed of. The goal of fire fighting is to contain and put fire out to protect lives, and minimize property damage.

    And , frankly, fire reports take time even in the US. I know because as a member of Public Safety at Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC some years ago, it was one of my duties to coordinate with Fire first – responders to prepare the incident reports. They weren’t bam bam affairs either since the company also dealt with nuclear reactors whose safety were of vital importance to federal, state, city, and municipal authorities.

    The archs of such comprehensive reports, though about cause & source of fire including whether arson or accident, were tilted toward prevention, and upgrading safety measures. And for facilities equipped with 24/ 7 fire monitoring control panels backed by separate CCTV command posts, the very fact that fires do occur indicates that nothing is fullproof. Let’s exercise PATIENCE!

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