30.03.2005 Regional News

Hospital staff quarters burnt down

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Keta, (V/R) March 30, GNA - A seven unit wooden structure with a store and conference facility, which used to serve as a transit quarters for the Keta Government Hospital staff in the Volta Region was last Saturday burnt into ashes. The structure, which was built and used by the engineers, who renovated the hospital five years ago, was located in the centre of the hospital, behind the main kitchen and close to the generator that serves the whole place.
The fire, which started as a spiral of smoke from one of the rooms around 1940 hrs. later burst into devouring flames, engulfing the whole structure and took only two hours to bring everything completely burnt down. Though, the local FM station, Jubilee Radio situated about a half kilometre from the scene announced the outbreak of the fire, about 30 minutes later, it took the Fire Service personnel with a detachment of police officers about two hours to arrive at the scene. By that time the youth around the hospital area had mobilised themselves to put the fire under control with water from the taps and wells, and managed to prevent the flames from extending to the generator and other facilities close to the burning structure. The late arrival of the Fire Service personnel from Denu, about 15 kilometre away from Keta brought violent confrontation between the police and the irate youth who had blocked entry into the hospital premises for the Fire Service personnel.
This, later resulted in the firing of warning shorts by the police whilst the angry youth threw stones at their vehicles, destroying the wind screen of a police car. One of the youth was arrested for trying to wrestle the gun from a police officer, but he was later released and brought to the hospital to receive treatment from injuries sustained by beating. Before the structure was razed to the ground by the fire, it was being occupied by the hospital driver, two national service personnel, one security officer, one dispensary technician and a store-keeper whose personal effects and various sums of money were burnt to ashes.

Talking to the press about the incident, the District Director of Health Services, Dr. Atsu Seake-Kwawu and Dr. F.K. Tsidi, who is in-charge of the hospital, said a probe panel had been set up to unravel the course of the fire and put stringent measures in place to prevent future occurrences. They commended the youth for bringing the fire under control, stressing that a monument would have to be raised for the extraordinary valour and sense of commitment shown by them, when institutional arrangement failed. Meanwhile the District Director of Health Services and the management of the hospital had estimated the cost of personal belongings and the cash of the occupants, the facility itself and other properties belonging to the hospital at 350 million cedis.

The District Chief Executive, Mr. Edward Ahiabor, who braved the drizzling evening to witness what would have been one of the dreaded fire disasters in the district, ordered a report to be submitted immediately to his office. When the District Crime Officer of the Keta District Police Headquarters was contacted for his comments on the confrontation between the police and the youth, he said, a thorough investigation had been ordered into the incident so he would reserve his comments. 30 March 05

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