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Electrical shock caused the fire outbreak-Colonel Dixon

Joseph Sayon/Maximilian Kasseh, Jr.

MONROVIA, LIBERIA-The Director of the National Fire Service says the fire disaster that killed twenty-seven persons at the Islamic School in Bassa Town, Paynesville was caused by electrical shock.

Colonel Alex Dixon said:” Debris from the scene were collected and tested to establish the cause of the fire.”

He spoke Monday, September 30, 2019, when he released the National Fire Service’s final investigation report on the fire at the school.

He, however, said that the structure of the school was built with sub-standard materials.

It can be recalled that flames swept a boarding school early Wednesday in the Bassa Town Community in Paynesville City, killing at least twenty-seven children and trapping others in the rubble.

The students were sleeping in a dormitory attached to a mosque when an electrical issue is suspected to have sparked the fire, a police spokesman said.

The victims are thought to be boys ages 10 to 20 who were studying the Koran.

“My prayers go out to the families of the children that died last night in Paynesville City; as a result of a deadly fire that engulfed their school building,” Liberian President George Weah said in a tweet. “This is a tough time for the families of the victims and all of Liberia. Deepest condolences go out to the bereaved.”

Gaylor Mulbah, who lives next door to the school, said he woke Wednesday morning to the noise of chaos.

“I came outside thinking there were armed robbers,” he said, “but everything was blazing. People were running, screaming, calling for help.”

Mulbah, a teacher at another school, said he tried to get to the boys but the heat was too intense to go near the building. Steel security bars blocked the windows.

Makeshift dwellings clogging the alleys around the school also caught fire, stalling rescuers. “It took two, three hours for the fire brigade to get in,” Mulbah said.

The boys who attend the Quranic Islamic School are known in the neighborhood as quiet and respectful. They often stay up late reading prayers, Mulbah said.
It is unclear how many students lived in the dormitory, but authorities said few were able to escape the inferno.

B. Abel Learwellie, Executive Director of Camp for Peace Liberia, a nonprofit organization in Paynesville City, said he cannot recall a disaster so deadly in the country of approximately 4.8 million since a landslide killed hundreds of miners nearly four decades ago.

Fires kill an estimated 250,000 people each year ¬worldwide, with the majority of victims in low- and middle-
income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Experts say low-quality housing, aging infrastructure and a lack of funding for safety inspections heighten the risk.


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