Charred remains of corrugated roofing sheets, stationery materials, wooden planks, metal furniture and household items littered the ground.
Sad residents, traders and neighbours, their faces blackened by burnt debris, stood in shock and dismay at the aftermath of a devastating fire incident while some rummage through the burnt piles of rubbish to see whatever they could salvage of their property.
This was the scene at No. 17 Malama Thomas Street on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 after a ferocious fire engulfed houses, shops and stores in the riverside community destroying everything in its path.
The National Fire Force Head Quarter (NFF-HQ) say they received a fire distress call at around 3:40pm about a fire incident from one Alhaji Turay. Fire engines from the Kissy and Aberdeen fire stations joined the NFF-HQ personnel to combat the blazing inferno.
The caretaker of the HM Safideen store, a stationery material wholesale dealer, Ibrahim Kargbo said he was the first to see the plume of smoke rising from the store.
“We just offloaded a container of goods when this disaster struck. We could not save anything because it was Sunday and the owners were not around,” he averred. Kargbo revealed that the raging inferno affected over a 100 people, with over 50 rooms burnt to the ground.
“I lost all my household items, even my children’s books, uniforms and school materials were all destroyed. Right now they are not going to school,” he said with teary eyes.
For his part, Hassan Koroma, who sells fishing nets and accessories, said he lost all his goods as he was absent when the incident started.
“By the time I came the fire had taken over everything. I lost over Le 50 million which is my business money and savings. I don’t keep my money in the bank for easy access. Right now only the clothes on my back are what I’m left with,” he lamented.
Mariama Thoronka, a household head of eight and importer of rubber slippers from Conakry, Guinea explained: “The fire was very serious. The sea breeze fanned the flames and made it spread quickly beyond control as we are near the sea. Right now we are sleeping outside as our home is burnt.”
The victims said though ONS officials came and took their details, they are yet to receive any help. They called on the Freetown City Council and the government to come to their aid as they have school going children affected by the incident.
According to sources, the fire was caused by a Dutch stove (coal pot) which was left unattended. It was ignited by combustible materials and spread the flames. Consequently, several dwelling structures constructed with sticks, corrugated iron sheets along the riverbank area of Malama Thomas Street were completely burnt down.
The radiant heat from the blaze also ignited a three-storey concrete building with double basements used as stores. It took the NFF personnel two days to extinguish the flames with water.
“The congestion of the structures significantly impeded the firefighting process. Some of the structures had to be broken by firefighters in order to reach the fire on time to extinguish it,” commented an NFF personnel.
Meanwhile, the owners of HM Safideen, referred to as the Godfather of stationery in the country, were not available for comment.