Fire ravages 3-storey shopping centre at Makola
Business activities at Makola in the central business district of Accra came to a standstill yesterday when fire gutted a three-storey building there, compelling scores of traders and occupants of the building to run for their lives.
The fire started from one of the shops on the topmost part of the building and ravaged mostly general merchandise and became an inferno in minutes.
Conflicting reports had it that the fire started between 6:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
It took the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) and the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) Fire Service over four hours to contain the fire from spreading into adjoining buildings.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, the fire continued to blaze, even after the GNFS had exhausted water from nine fire tenders and one more from the GAF.
At some point, however, the rescue effort bordered on the bizarre, as officers resorted to the use of buckets and head pans to fetch and spray water to douse tongues of fire that had dropped to the ground floor.
By that point, however, traders on the ground floor had started salvaging some of their wares.
With property, mainly trading wares, running into millions of Ghana cedis up in flames, it was a matter of course that there was a chorus of wailing among affected traders and even onlookers.
Amid the disaster, a line-up of cameras of mobile phones filming proceedings played up the new culture of the mobile phone and social media age.
No casualty was recorded, however, in the affected building, which is located directly opposite the Makola Shopping Mall.
An eyewitness, Clifford Adzikah, told the Daily Graphic that when the fire started, they rushed to the nearest fire station in the market, but officers there claimed they did not have water in the tenders.
Over the period, the fire spread to other shops in the building.
A shop owner in the affected building, Mr Hakeem Ayimla, blamed the escalation of the fire on the GNFS.
“We called the Fire Service, but they came late, which caused the fire to get worse, and although some of us had fire extinguishers, it was too late for us to use them.
“Some shop owners have generators and gas cylinders in their shops, and all these are factors that made the fire escalate to that extent,” he claimed.
Briefing the Daily Graphic, the Public Relations Officer of the GNFS, Divisional Officer I Ellis Robinson Okoe, said all the hydrants in the central business district did not have the required pressure for firefighting, and that impeded efforts to douse the fire.
“Unfortunately, all the hydrants that we have in the central business district do not have the pressure required for firefighting, so we had to rely on those at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and other adjoining communities, and they are quite far from here, so that is the challenge.
“Also, there is only one entry point to the building, which was quite disturbing to the team,” he said.
He added that investigations were ongoing, and that the GNFS would issue a comprehensive report after the investigations.