The ferocious fire that gutted the Central Medical Stores of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in Tema has reduced the facility to ‘ground zero’. The blazing fire was brought under control yesterday by personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), after almost 30 hours of burning.

The fire, which started about 9:45 a.m. last Monday, was intense and proved  difficult to fight as a result of the mix of items stored in the warehouse, some of which kept exploding while firemen were at work, sending huge fireballs into the sky and spreading to other parts of the facility.

The noticeable lack of water in the fire hydrant on the premises also hindered efforts by the firefighters who had to rely on members of the Tema Water Tankers Association who carried volumes of water from a nearby hydrant to replenish the fire engines.

The strong harmattan winds also hampered the fire-fighting efforts, as the winds fanned the flames and kept changing the direction of the fire.

No casualties were recorded.

As of 1 p.m. yesterday when the Daily Graphic was leaving the scene, the fire had turned into smouldering rubble, while firefighters and officials of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) had secured two excavators to spread the debris to enable firefighters to extinguish the fire beneath the rubble which occasionally reignited.

Members of the Tema Water Tanker Drivers Association who had been commissioned by the National Security and NADMO were also busy carrying water to the scene to aid the fire-fighting process.

The acting Head of Public Relations at the GNFS, Divisional Officer III Mr Ellis Robinson Okoe, said although the fire had been brought under control, fire personnel would not rest on their laurels until the fire had totally been extinguished.

The Minister of the Interior, Mr Mark Woyongo; the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, and the MP for Tema East, Mr Daniel Nii Kwatei Titus-Glover, separately visited the fire scene.

Mr Woyongo described the incident as devastating and a huge loss to the state.

He commended personnel of the GNFS and the other agencies and institutions who had helped to contain the fire.

He said the ministry expected an interim report on the incident by tomorrow to offer an idea on the cause of the fire.

He stressed the need to continue to adequately equip the GNFS for it to fight such fire outbreaks, adding that his ministry was working towards providing every metropolitan, municipal and district assembly (MMDA) with a fire engine to aid in dealing with fire outbreaks.

Mr Woyongo said the ministry would recommend that most public institutions install CCTV cameras to help establish the cause of accidents in public institutions.

He bemoaned the poor housekeeping in the warehouse that contributed to the spread of the fire.

Mr Yieleh Chireh said the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health would follow up on any report that would emerge from the investigations into the fire.

Mr Titus-Glover said safety was an important concern of all, hence the need for the strict implementation of the Factories, Offices and Shops Act to prevent such disasters from recurring.
Counting cost

A day after the fire, officials of the GHS and workers were spotted counting their losses as they sifted through the debris.

Others were also spotted taking inventory of items in the offices that were not affected.

Source: daily Graphic