…Over 500 homeless
April 4, 2017 By Regina Pratt & Memunatu Bangura
Over five hundred residents have been rendered homeless after a wild fire engulfed Port Loko wharf at the Susan’s Bay community, central Freetown.
The mysterious fire, according to an eye witness account, also gutted about eighty makeshift structures in the community.
Efforts by the community people to put out the fire proved futile, as the shacks were clustered together. On the far edge of the bay, women and children were seen wailing, while gang youth were busy marauding belongings of the fire victims.
Operations officer at the East end Police station, Assistant Superintendent Osman Kamara, told Concord Times that the fire was reported to have come from the room of one Ibrahim Kamara, whom police said, was in their custody helping them with investigations.
He told Concord Times that two Fire officers, who went to put out the fire, were caught up with heavy smoke and eventually went into coma.
The two officers, according to him, were given first aid treatment by the Sierra Leone Red Cross society, before taking them to the Connaught Hospital.
ASP Kamara could not ascertain any report of casualties but stated that one of their colleagues, PC 12693 Saidu Kabia, got injured in his attempt to save one of the residents that was unintentionally shoved into the blazing fire.
“Only one of our colleagues got injured in his quest to save lives and properties but he has been taken to the Connaught Hospital,” he said.
When asked about the number of houses that were gutted, the operations officer could not ascertain as at that time, stating that police was still investigating the cause of the fire disaster.
An eyewitness, Saidu Bangura, told Concord Times that he saw fire coming from his neighbour’s room, but the said neighbor was not around to respond, and that the doors were locked.
“I saw black smoke coming from this house. I called the man who owns the house but he was not around,” he said.
One of the victims, Safinatu Kamara said she was dressing her granddaughters for school, when the fire broke out in the neighbouring house, and that no sooner as they could take out some of their belongings than the fire has already reached their own apartments and destroyed everything.
Officer in Charge at Pork Loko Wharf, Susan’s Bay police post, Inspector Tamba Gborie, said he was on duty at around 7:00 am, when he received a call from his intelligence officer that fire has engulfed some houses at the wharf.
Inspector Gborie said by the time he arrived at the scene, the raging fire was already beyond human control, noting that there was a fire brigade to help put out the fire but they could not, because the shacks were clustered together and inaccessible.
He stated that it was unfortunate that the cause of the fire was not known but noted that the Sierra Leone Police and the National Fire Force were investigating the issue.
Susan’s Bay’s Chief, Alhaji Alimamy Kamara II, said he was in a meeting with some community stakeholders at his Barry, when one Abubakarr Sankoh, alerted him that fire has engulfed some houses in the community.
The chief stated that when he arrived at the scene, with some youth in the community, they tried to put out the fire but everything was beyond their control.
He called on government, Non-Governmental Organisations and other well-meaning Sierra Leoneans to support members of his community as they were left with nothing.