‘Dumso’ Hits Kufuor House
The Abena Atea Towers, a plush six-storey office complex located at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra, believed to be owned by popular Ghanaian football star Sammy Osei Kuffour, was hit by a freak fire outbreak in the early hours of Tuesday.
Fortunately, no casualty was recorded because most of the occupants of the building had not resumed work for the day.
DAILY GUIDE gathered that by 6.30 am on the ill-fated day, passers-by saw smoke emanating from the building.
Eventually, it exploded into a huge tongue of red-hot flames that raged for almost an hour before personnel of the Fire Service turned up with about five fire tenders to quench the raging inferno.
Even though officials of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) could not immediately explain the cause of the fire, security guards in the premises said they could almost swear that the fire was caused by the unbridled power fluctuations from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) that day.
Prince Billy Anaglate, the Public Relations Officer of GNFS, told DAILY GUIDE that security guards on the premises told them that shortly before the fire, they noticed the electric power going on and off several times in a manner popularly referred to as 'Dum so Dum so'. The local parlance was adopted when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) assumed the reins of government.
When asked if the fire was caused by the power fluctuations, Mr. Anaglate answered, 'We would not be able to say now until we have concluded with it [investigations]. Fires of this nature, there are several factors involved, so we need to ascertain.'
The fire razed the second and third floors of the building which is occupied by Information Communication Technology (ICT) academy, NIIT.
A clearly distraught Managing Director of NIIT, Kapil Gupta, was as stunned as everybody else by the fire outbreak. Mr. Gupta, who might have rushed from his house that morning upon hearing the news (given his unkempt appearance), told DAILY GUIDE that his company was taking stock of the damage caused by the fire.
According to him, he would not rule out the 'Dum so Dum so' phenomenon. 'We don't know what happened, it could be the lights,' he said.
According to stunned eye-witnesses, the fire raged for almost an hour before personnel of the GNFS was able to put it out.
Before the GNFS appeared on the scene, officials of NIIT were seen feebly trying to subdue the fire with fire extinguishers. They were however unsuccessful in this quest.
After suppressing the fire, officials of the Fire Service sealed off the premises, barring occupants from entering. Consequently, work was stopped in the ground floor occupied by the Ring Road branch of Access Bank.
The bank immediately put out notices for its customers to use alternate branches in other parts of Accra.
Also, the fire rendered more than 1000 students of the NIIT redundant for the day. The students may not be able to have regular classes until the building has been adequately assessed to be safe for occupation again.
It was unclear when the GNFS would clear the building for use again.
When asked about the building's adherence to fire safety standards, the PRO of the GNFS told the paper that he saw a number of fire safety equipment but would have to ascertain if they were adequate to quell fires.
'Of course they have smoke detectors, but whether they are all working is another thing. I saw some extinguishers, whether they are also working is another, because it is one thing having those facilities and another, making sure that they are serviceable to work at the time that you need them,' Mr. Anaglate noted.
'I do not know whether they have trained their workers and security men to have basic knowledge of using these facilities to fight the fire,' he said.
Several officials of the Ghana Police Service were spotted at the scene helping frantically to control the crowd watching the GNFS fight the blazing fire.
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran