Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph narrowly escaped death early Thursday when his home in Congo Town was gutted by fire. He and other occupants of the house were left stranded as the fire engulfed the building. It took the intervention of his ‘good’ neighbors to break in and save their lives.
By Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
“I woke up around 1 this morning, hearing people shouting ‘fire, fire,’” said Samuel Henries, one of the rescuers. “When we arrived, we could hear cries for help coming from inside the house. We had to remove the window bars to rescue the Senator and the others. He was rushed to St. Joseph Catholic Hospital, where he is responding to treatment.”
James Harris Zoe, a neighbor who is being celebrated for leading the mission to rescue Senator Joseph, speaking to FrontPage Africa said: “I came home and heard a lot of noise with people yelling and in confusion. I thought it was rogue, but then I was told that Saah Joseph’s house was burning. The gate was locked, and all the keys inside. We used rocks to burst the lock and entered. Again he was stranded inside and the only way we could get in was through the window.
Harris continued: “Everyone said he is no more, he is dead. But I told myself that this guy is not just an ordinary person, he can’t just die like this. I jumped on the window and started to forcefully put a band on the window bar. Everyone said it was late because the fire had engulfed the house. That the man is finished. But when they saw the wall cracking from the window, they all joined me and we removed the window bar and pulled him out and used my car to take him to the hospital.”
A police officer, identified as McCarthy, affirmed Henries and Harris’ narratives, stating that Senator Joseph was extracted from the inferno in a distressed state and was immediately transported to the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital.
His colleagues at the Liberian Senate did not hold a regular session on Thursday as Senate President Pro Tempore Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence led them to sympathize with him. FrontPage could not reach Senator Joseph but later gathered that he had been discharged and was staying at a local hotel.
Senator Joseph was not the only resident in Congo Town whose property was destroyed. A few blocks away up London Hill, Elvis A. Tamba’s three-bedroom house was also burned. Tamba said he woke up in the middle of the night and began to smell burned rubber, and when he came out of the room to look, half of his house was in flames.
“I walked through the fire using my hands to open the iron gate. As a welder, I know what parts of these doors can easily be opened, but in the heat, it was difficult. I did all I could do to save myself and my siblings who were with me,” said Tamba as he explained his ordeal showing is hands battered with bruises and blisters from the fire burn. Tamba, an entrepreneur is the president of Graceland Group of Company and vice president of the Liberia Welding Society Union.
“My house was fully furnished. Everything you think about, living room set, Kitchen set, air condition and all my family’s belongings. Everything burned to aches. I only came out with my boxer. These slippers and shirt were given to me by a friend. I lost everything, he said looking at the charred house still oozing smokes and smell of burned appliances.
‘No Fuel in Fire Service tank’
Amidst the chaos of the fire, the Liberia Fire Service did not respond until the properties – both Senator Joseph and Mr. Tamba were consumed in flames.
Said Tamba:“Unfortunately, we haven’t seen anybody from the Fire service and LEC. We have people that we fought for so that in times of trouble they can come fight for you, but even last night we called the Liberia National Fire Service, but they told us that they didn’t have fuel for their tankers. What a world we live in! Why will we continue to live in such a society? We always strive for better leadership so that Liberia can become a better place for all of us, but unfortunately, we get frustrated by the way things go and that’s why you see people are running away from Liberia.”
Residents told FrontPage Africa that during the fire, they called the Liberia National Fire Service, but the agents told them that they could not respond because there was no fuel for the fire trucks.
“This is scary. Does it mean if we had not intervened, Senator Joseph would have died for nothing? Is this the new Liberia we want? This is so disheartening, said Terry Kennedy, another resident.”
FrontPage Africa visited the Fire Service Station on Ashmun Street, downtown Monrovia for response but staff there referred FPA to Kesselly Sumo, Assistant Director for Operations. When contacted via mobile phone, Sumo said he was not the rightful official to speak to the media and promised to connect the entity’s head of Public Affairs for an official position statement, but he did not until the time of publication.
The LEC did not respond, but an employee, citing anonymity, said, in cases like these, the LEC only acts when the Fire Service conducts investigation and holds it liable for the cause of fire.