At around 9:43am on 9th February 2021, residents of Portee Wharf revealed that a ferocious fire incident broke out in their community destroying houses and other properties, and injuring a young man.
According to Saidu Kargbo, a caretaker of the land where the fire disaster occurred, 30 houses were gutted.
“We do not know the cause of the fire which affected over one hundred (100) people. The National Fire Force (NFF) came to the scene but could not help much due to poor road network. It was the youths of the community that mobilised themselves to fight the blaze,” he said.
Kargbo, the head of a family of seven and a fisherman, said they passed the night in the open after the disaster. “Office of National Security (ONS) came and other NGOs and registered us with promises of support. I lost four million Leones (Le4M) to the disaster,” he added.
Victim Abdulai Kamara said he was not at home when the disaster struck, disclosing: “I have three rooms and six people in my care. I lost all my household property as I was not at home when the incident happened.”
Sallay M. Kargbo, a fishmonger and boat owner, said she saw the fire when it started in one of the rooms. “I lost my two freezers and my contribution money of five million Leones (Le5M) which was given to me the previous day. We tried to put the fire out initially but the wind from the sea was heavy so it went out of control and spread to the neighbouring houses,” she told, adding that most of their properties salvaged from the burning houses were stolen.
Adikalie Bangura, a youth who aided the fire victims said he was injured in the process when a freezer gas cylinder exploded on him. “I was taken unconscious to the Rokupa Government Hospital for treatment but due to lack of finance I was given first aid and sent home. Right now, I am feeling pain internally, and my leg is seriously hurting me. I was also injured by nail and a corrugated roofing sheet,” he noted. “I also lost my Le430,000 and Spark 3 mobile phone.”
Meanwhile, the Officer in Charge (OC) of the Rokupa/Portee Wharf Police Station, Inspector Mansaray, confirmed that a young man reported to them that his properties went missing during the fire incident. He, meanwhile, decried the way the NFF personnel were pelted with stones when they arrived at the scene.
Chief Pa Alimamy Kamara of the same community pleaded for relief items for the disaster victims who are exposed to the burning sun during the day and the cold air at night. “This is not good for their health. Some are pregnant women and nursing mothers while others are aged,” he added.
However, the Team Leader of the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS), Osman Sesay, while assessing the damage, said they have provided psychological first aid to the victims and are trying to erect two tents near the site to house the victims.
“We heard that Freetown City Council, Sierra Leone Police and ONS officials have all visited the scene,” he said.
Notwithstanding that, by press time, some of the fire victims were still sheltered at the new Rokupa Government Hospital near the wharf, which is yet to be commissioned.