A second fire this month in Papua New Guinea’s Industrial City of Lae has residents asking why the Papua New Guinea Fire Service has been unable to respond effectively to fire emergencies.
Eyewitnesses say fire alarms were ringing as early as 6.30 pm yesterday as smoke bellowed from the roof of the Brian Bell Homecenter.
As crowds gathered and police arrived to secure the area, there was still no sign of the fire Service.
“Much of the Building could have been saved,” said a station commander of one of Lae’s police stations. Police and security personnel were already here but the fire service got here very late.
Initial pictures of the fire began circulating on Facebook just after 6pm. Social media has been very critical of the emergency service.
By 7pm, the fire was out of control. Attempts to stop the blaze proved futile as the flammable materials of the building hissed under the onslaught of the inferno.
But the blaze did not stop looters from making off with whatever they could. Two children both under the age of 15 ran off with a brush cutter as police fired shots into the air to disperse a larger crowd who tried to get into the Brian Bell warehouse.
Earlier this month, Lae’s G4S security headquarters and the neighbouring Niugini Drug Wholesale warehouse were destroyed in another fire.
The PNG Fire service has not responded officially to the queries about their challenges. But it is understood, their response capacity is inadequate.
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