A fierce fire swept through the sprawling slum of Sodom and Gomorrah in Accra yesterday, destroying property worth hundreds of millions of cedis.
The items destroyed included cash, jewellery, clothing, shoes, electronic appliances such as television sets, video decks and tape recorders and physical structures.
This is the second fire outbreak in the area in less than a month. Fire gutted portions of the slum on December 24, last year.
The fire burnt uncontrollably from one structure to another, destroying everything in its way.
The harmattan may also have favoured the spread of the fire, which billowed freely in the air and produced thick smoke because all the structures in the slum were made of wood.
It caused such havoc that affected persons were seen crying openly over their lost property.
Unlike previous fire outbreaks, this particular one was described by squatters there as the most intense. While it raged on, the about 34,000 squatter population looked on helplessly.
Personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) were mobilised from all the fire stations in the city, such as the Madina, Weija, Dansoman, the Trade Fair and the Accra City Fire stations.
According to eyewitnesses, the fire started at about 1:30 p.m. and the Accra City Fire Station was informed promptly. Although the personnel manoeuvred their way through the congested Agbogbloshie Road to the scene of the fire, the unplanned nature of the area impeded their efforts at putting out the fire quickly. They struggled through the thick crowd of squatters and structures and finally managed to put out the fire at about 3:20 p.m.
A squatter, Mr Aliu Fuseini, whose personal belongings and structure were burnt in the outbreak, said he had had enough of the place and was ready to go to his home town, Offinso, to start a new life.
He said he came to live in the slum seven years ago and ever since he had had to contend with one fire outbreak after another.
The only things he managed to get safely out of his room were his fridge and a television set.
The Metropolitan Fire Officer of the GNFS, Mr Michael Gabianu, said fire outbreaks in the slum would soon become rituals and consequently reiterated the call on the government to relocate the squatters at Sodom and Gomorrah.
He said the unplanned nature of the area always made it difficult for fire personnel to fight fires in the slum.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known and Mr Gabianu said investigations would be conducted to determine that.
Story By Naa Lamiley Bentil