Horror in Kumasi; as fires ravage properties @ Alabar, KNUST
Residents in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi, did not hear pleasant news yesterday, as fires gutted shops at Alabar, near the Central Market, and the mini market of the Republic Hall at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in separate developments.
Whilst ten shops were destroyed in the KNUST inferno, the same thing cannot be said of Alabar, where the fire destroyed over 31 stores out of 60.
On a working visit to Alabar at about 1300 hrs GMT, The Chronicle observed that the one-storey building, which had been gutted by fire, had been cordoned off, with six fire tenders in action attempting to put out the raging fire, which had destroyed properties running into millions of cedis.
A turn-table fire tender was in operation, with two fire officers on top of the crane battling the fire, as bystanders looked on.
Armed military, police, and officers of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) were deployed to the scene to help the Fire Service personnel manage the situation.
Addressing the media, DOIII Desmond Ackah, Ashanti Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Fire Service, disclosed that the fire started around 11:00 am, and they arrived to the scene at about 11:25, adding that it took them five minutes to get to the scene.
He noted that at about 11:29 am, the fire was blazing and raging in all directions, so they decided to contain the inferno from spreading to further adjoining buildings, including Zuria FM, an attempt they succeeded in doing.
He said: “As at now, over thirty shops on the upper floor and its contents have been affected by the fire, and an eyewitness is saying that there was wielding going on in one of the shops, and apparently it triggered the fire.”
He continued that they had picked some evidence, including some of the wires the wielder was using to undertake his work.
Assuaging fear and apprehension about the fire, DOIII Ackah stated that it had almost been fully extinguished, and that they were going to get to the root cause of the inferno, and would let the public know the cause.
Asked about the location of the said wielder, the PRO of the Fire Service noted that they had given leads to the police to get him arrested to face the full rigours of the law.
He asserted that the lower floor was safe and had not been gutted by the fire, so they were doing their best to ensure that it is fully extinguished, adding that they also want the public to exercise patience, because when they are done, they would give them the green light to go into their shops and salvage their properties .
Responding to a question about the content of materials in the building, Mr. Desmond Ackah disclosed that some of the materials in the building were plastics, building materials, and consumables, so it could be describe as a mixed cargo fire, therefore, they would deploy all available approaches to contain it from spreading to the adjoining buildings.
Quizzed about their challenges in battling the fire, DOIII Ackah disclosed to the media that when they reported to the scene, they realised that two of their fire hydrants had low pressure, and as result of that, they could not fully untilise them.
This development, he noted, compelled them to mobilise six additional tenders, including their turn-table ladder to reach the height and deal with the fire.
Asked about the danger the building posed to the public, the fire officer noted that when they are done with the dousing of the fire, they would pull it down, that was why they had cordoned off the area.
DOIII Ackah urged the public to call the Fire Service right away when there is fire outbreak.
Touching on the KNUST fire outbreak, he stated that on Sunday dawn, at about 0145hrs GMT, they had a situation at KNUST Republic Hall Market, to which they responded in less than two minutes and salvaged the place.
According to him, the damage was quite extensive, however, they were able to save some of the properties from totally burning.
He said: “In all, about ten containerised kiosks and their contents got damaged, with some refrigerators, provisions and other consumables. He was emphatic that nobody was injured or died in the fire.
He encouraged and advised the public to be fire safety-conscious, stressing that the use of naked lights such as candles, mosquito coils should be avoided, adding that they should make sure their electrical systems are in good shape and look for a certified electrician to service their faults.
In a statement from KNUST under the signatory of the Deputy University Relations Officer, Dr. Norris Bekoe, he stated that the campus was calm and that all the students were going about their routine activities peacefully.
He has subsequently asked the public to disregard misinformation on social media alleging that Republic Hall was burned and 17 persons, including a porter, lost their lives.
He stated: “Management wishes to place on record that the Republic Hall was not affected by the fire. Again, management wants to state that no student or item belonging to any student was affected by the fire.”
According to the statement, at about 01:31 am on Sunday of 10 January, 2021, a mini market container, measuring about 45 feet behind the Republic Hall, was gutted by fire.
The statement explained that the KNUST fire tender was immediately dispatched to manage the incident. At 01:37 am, the tender arrived at the scene and managed to bring the fire under control at exactly 02:25 am.
Dr. Norris said: “While the fire was being controlled, all students in the Hall close to the scene were evacuated to safety.”