The New Dawn (Monrovia)

31 July 2012

Liberia: Fire Disaster Leaves Over 25,000 Homeless

Over 25, 000 residents have become homeless after fire gutted almost 20 houses (predominantly zinc shacks) Saturday night July 28, in the Township of West Point in Monrovia. As a result, several children are feared dead as rescue effort for survivors continued from Saturday to early Sunday when this paper visited the scene.

Parents were seen weeping as they searched the debris for the remains of their children in the aftermath of the incident.

"Since last night (Saturday), I have not seen anyone of my children. I do not know where they are as they were asleep when the fire started," Dorothy, a weeping mother of four (4), told this paper.

The fire started late Saturday and continued to early Sunday. Efforts by fire-fighters from the Liberia Petroleum and Refining Company (LPRC), UNMIL and the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS) prevented the fire from spreading to other communities.

However, some of the victims have accused an occupant of one of the burned houses for being responsible for the fire outbreak. The accused, only indentified as Decontee, is said to have left a "fire chunk" in her charcoal bag and took it back in her room, and went loitering.

"The fire chunk was in the charcoal bag she took back into room. So, when the bag got lit-up, it caught the wall (zinc) of the room," another victim added.

It was the flames from Decontee's room or house that spread to the rest of the houses in the area thus, causing a huge damage to lives and properties.

This has been the second tragedy to hit the township (West Point). Fortnights ago, over 20,000 people were made homeless when over 15 houses gutted fire in the same area.

West Point Township is one of the densely populated slum communities in the Capitol where houses are congested, leaving no pathways. With this, whenever there is any incident of such in the township, fire-fighters often find it difficult, if not impossible, to contain the situation.

Meanwhile, the fire victims are appealing to the Liberia National Red Cross Society, local and international non-governmental organizations and people of goodwill for assistance.

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