By: Rancy S. Teewia
After weeks of anticipation, Liberians are now been told that the fire incident which claimed the lives of 27 school kids and their teacher on September 17, 2019 at the United Dawah Mission, Bob Taylor Community, Bassa Town red-light branch, Paynesville was not the work of arsonists, rather, the ghastly fire was caused by electrical shock from within the school building.
Speaking in a press conference at the Liberia National Fire Service Headquarter in Monrovia on Monday September 30, 2019, the Director of the Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS), Col. Alex K. Dickson, said after the NFS investigation, they discovered that the disaster was caused by electrical shock from electricity supplied by Mr. Fredrick King Brown to the Mission.
“Before coming up with the finding after a week-long investigation, we discovered that the cause of the fire was an electrical shock and the supplier of that current to the building was Mr. Fredrick King Brown. Mr. Fredrick King Brown provides current to the Mosque and also to the school and the generator used is a 30-KVA generator, “Director Dickson said.
According to the National Fire Service Director, the team discovered that the fire started in the first right room in the roof of the house, and the team also discovered during their investigation that there was a motor bike parked in the corridor of the house that had gasoline in it. He said after the students noticed that there was a fire in the roof of the House, they all escaped to the back of the house where there was no exit, adding “The house had only one entrance and no exit.”
He further stated when the fire started from the front of the building, the students trooped at the back to their teacher in search of escape route but was to no avail. “The smoke takes 10 minutes to take a life of somebody and it also takes 10 minutes for a fire to re-generate, so in 50 minutes we received that call we believe that after the team got on scene the building was already engulf with fire, and the first two students that survived when they discovered the smoke in the first room, the two left from the entrance and went to the back to see their teacher made it through the fire, and if you see the boy at JFK you will see the burn all over his body, they ran through the fire and this is how they got burned and because of their bravery they have to save their lives.”
The NFS Boss said a call was placed to the National fire service on the September 17, 2019, at about 11:50 PM that there was a fire outbreak, from 11: 50 PM -12: 37AM in the course of 50 -55 minutes calls were made to the Liberia National Fire Station one on Ashman Street at 12:37 Am.
Receiving the call, Commander Victor Chelley led his team to the incident scene and got there about 1:02AM coming from Ashman street to Paynesville red-light, Bassa town community “The call was made by metro 2 depot relight police station, they made the call to the station, the structure we are talking about was built in 1999 and what kind of material was used on the school, from our investigation there were substandard materials used on the school.”
Col. Dickson indicated the total capacity of the structure was about 46 persons residing in the building, the imam family and total students including their instructor were 35 during the night of the fire outbreak. Of the 35 residing on campus, 31 were present that night and of the 31 from our investigation we learned that four survived including the imam family of 11 and the total in number were 15 survivors.
“Upon receiving the call from the investigative team, they proceeded on the scene and started their investigation on the September 17, 2019, and going through their investigation, they discovered that the fire started in the front of the house, in the first room on the right and which have a dark glass that you will be seeing to tell how these people died.”
He said the investigation was both sent to the United State and Ghana for review before releasing the final report, which will be submitted to the Attorney General of the Republic of Liberia, Justice Minister and copy to the acting president.