BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – The living quarters for four medical doctors at the Buchanan Government Hospital caught on fire at approximately 2:00 p.m. on Monday, leaving the building completely damaged.
The hospital administrator, Isaac Barneer, described the burning of the four bedroom structure as astonishing and said it was the first time the building had caught on fire in the ten years that the hospital has been using it.
According to Barneer, the fire destroyed items valued at about US$15,000 belonging to newly assigned doctors, including property owned by the head doctor, Alfred Lowah.
“We do not know what really started the fire and it was so good that no one was in the building when it was burning,” Barneer said.
He mentioned that despite the situation, the hospital continues to function normally and efforts are ongoing to relocate the four doctors affected by the fire.
Eddie L. Williams, Grand Bassa’s county informational officer, praised the intervention of Arcelor Mittal, the Equatorial Palm Oil Company, and the Buchanan branch of the Liberia National Fire Service for their efforts in protecting other facilities near the affected building.
Williams said the county administration would work with the hospital to determine the cause of the fire and arrange the necessary support.
“This is an emergency,” William said. “As a county, we will first try to handle the well-being of those affected and will look for the report from the hospital administration.”
Samuel Wessel, the Fire Service Commander for Grand Bassa, told The Bush Chicken that it took his firefighters and residents of the community roughly 25 minutes to bring the fire under control after they arrived on the scene.
Wessel said his unit usually aims to control fire within five minutes of arrival on the scene, however, he said this fire was too large.
“Upon our arrival at the hospital, the doctors’ quarters was already under fire and we did our best to stop the fire and protect other facilities,” he said.
While Wessel said Buchanan residents are supposed to alert the fire service via a hotline, he conceded that the line is currently nonfunctional. He said the hospital’s administrator had to call him on his personal phone to notify him of the fire.
Besides the lack of a hotline, Wessel said the Buchanan branch of the fire service does not have all the proper equipment to do its job.
Additionally, he complained that the poor road network within the city often causes firefighters to arrive at the site of fire too late.
“People know that the road network in Buchanan is in bad condition and we are on many occasions attacked by community dwellers [because of the perception that] we delay in responding to fire outbreaks,” Wessel said.
In 2015, Wessel said his branch received nine calls to respond to fire. So far this year, there have only been two calls, he said.
Featured photo by Trokon Karnga