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NEWS : Local News  

In Sierra Leone, As Mysterious Fire RagesÖ FAWE on Fire!!!
By David A. Jabati
Feb 7, 2013, 17:10
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It was just after 9pm on Tuesday February 5th 2013 when a mysterious fire was spotted at the Hill Street, Soja Tong, Central Freetown neighbourhood hosting the National Secretariat of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE). Within what many eye-witnesses describe as minutes, the raging inferno had engulfed from the top to the bottom of three-storeyed FAWE secretariat which is the brainchild of Dr. Christiana Thorpe, the Founder of FAWE-Sierra Leone. Allegations are that a Cinema centre located next to FAWE building was locked with petrol inside and it suddenly caught fire and spread.


However, when this newspaper contacted the operators of the Cinema centre, they vehemently denied that they had any inflammables inside the building.

The raging fire as it took over the entire FAWE compound


Meanwhile as the fire continued to spread uncontrollably, neighbours were busy crying, making distress calls and praying for the fire to be extinguished before it gets out of hand. The National Fire Force was called in to help but came rather too late as the fire had already started engulfing the last floor of the two storey FAWE building before the fire engine materialized at the scene much to the anger of the youths.


The Youths Of Soja Tong

Had it not been for the timely intervention of the youths of Soja Tong, it might have been an even worse disaster in the neighbourhood. Some of the youths led by one Edgerton Thomas aka Papani even climbed the roof top of the neighbouring house to throw buckets of water just to help extinguish the raging inferno at FAWE whilst at the same time, protecting the next house in case of any eventuality. The youths also ensured that the Cinema center next to the FAWE building was brought down while on fire just to reduce its spread of flames to other neighbouring houses.. 

National Fire Fighters at work with Soja Tong youths to battle the fire


Fire Brigade & Her Only Fire Engine

The people of Soja Tong, particularly residents of Hill Street jumped for joy when they heard the sound of the siren of the fire engine as it sped towards the scene. But alas! The angry fire had already consumed the top floor heading for the penultimate floor. The old water hose of the fire engine had multiples of holes on it which sprouted water hysterically and by so doing, wasting good quantity of the small water that was available in the tank to extinguish the fire. Although able-body fire fighters led by one Claude Vincent fought the fire to the admiration and satisfaction of onlookers and neighbors, the water in the tank ran out while the fire continued its journey much to the dismay of everyone at the scene.


Water Crisis

Water crisis has become a thorn in the flesh of city dwellers for a very long time now. Even in times of distress when water is badly needed, there is almost always no where to find water. This was exactly the case when the water in the tank of the only fire engine ran out that fateful night. The Soja Tong community has two hydrants but whether they had water or not or whether or not the fire fighters had any knowledge about that are the unanswered questions because the fact is that the fire fighters had to go as far as Kissy Road by Eastern Police Station to fetch water before it could come back to continue to fight the FAWE fire.

The National Fire Force Engine which ran out of water... TWICE!


This was somewhat strange to many. On arrival for the second time with their tank now full of more water, they valiantly fought and fought the fire until the water ran out for the second time while the fire was just about 75% extinguished. They had to come back the third time to accomplish their mission. Eventually they succeeded.


According to one of the fire fighter, Claude Vincent, they would have done more if they had an additional fire engine and enough water. "We are incapacitated as a National Fire Force," he said.

Enter the Nigerians

A Nigerian company, Alogen Ventures is just about one week old in town to market a unique type of fire extinguisher called Elide Fire Extinguisher Ball. Whilst the Proprietor of the company, Jide Delanjo was driving together with a staff member home that night, they heard about the fire accident and fortunately they had three fire balls with them in the car. The two gentlemen decided to make a quick stop at the scene to see which assistance they can render.

The next morning, this was front view of FAWE building; totally damaged!


Upon seeing the kind of destruction by the raging inferno, they immediately reached out for all three fire-balls and with the help of a youth of that community, Abubakar Jalloh aka Baka G the three balls were thrown into the fire which considerably helped to extinguish certain areas the fire was about to consume.


Speaking to Awareness Times at the scene, the Proprietor, Jide Delanjo said the product is the simplest and fastest way of extinguishing fire. "You can put it in your office, home or car and any time there is a fire outbreak it extinguishes it immediately," he explained to Awareness Times. The ball-like object, he said, has a powder-like substance in it that explodes whenever it comes in contact with fire. Each fire ball, according to him costs US$86.

Jide Delanjo, the Nigeria Rescuer & colleague displaying the fire balls


"It is a new product we are here to market and this is the first time we are demonstrating how it works in Sierra Leone," he said. The first demo at FAWE in Soja Tong has proved to many present that night that the product is indeed viable for the purposes of extinguishing fire. Though expensive, this writer witnessed them live in action and can confirm it is worth it to have those balls around.


Dr. Christiana Thorpe & FAWE Staff

Dr. Christiana Thorpe, the Chief Electoral Commissioner of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) is also Founder of FAWE-SL. When Awareness Times called her up to have her take on fire accident, she expressed shock and sadness. "I am shocked. One is shocked to hear that such an incident took place at a time when least expected. I am informed it started from outside, from another premise and spread to us," According to Madam Thorpe, her National Coordinator is following up on the issue and would give her better feedback.

Jide Delanjo, the Nigeria Rescuer & colleague displaying the fire balls


According to the FAWE National Coordinator, Eileen Johnson who also spoke to this press, the news of the fire accident at their National Secretariat came as a surprise to all of them. She bemoaned the National Fire Force for coming too late. The fact that they had to run out of water twice was also something she said she could not comprehend.


"Look at the level of destruction. If it were State House on fire, what would they have done?" the lady asked.

Side view of the burnt-out damaged FAWE National Secretariat


Desmond George, a security at FAWE who has a room within the building was one of the victims who spoke to Awareness Times. According to him, they are yet to know the cause of the fire. He only confirmed that it all started from outside and spread to their compound.


Up to press time the exact cause of the fire accident still remains unknown. The National Fire Force and the Sierra Leone Police are investigating.

Fire overtaking the top floor of the FAWE BUILDING


FAWE Building in full frame




© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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