Fire Victim Speaks

A Lae man has told of how his family home was destroyed after fire fighters arrived an hour after they were alerted.

Apelis Mapua says it took firefighters between 30 to 40 minutes to get their gear ready and another 20 to get to the fire.


“I went to the fire station and told them that my house was on fire,” he said. “It took them that long to get their personal protection equipment and truck organized.


“When I got to the flat, I had to wait for them again.”


The fire started from an electrical fault in the roof. His son and daughters were in their Salamander flat when they noticed smoke coming out of the ceiling.


By the time the fire truck came, the flat was already engulfed in flames.


“They couldn’t save the building. So we told them to save the last unit that remained.


This is not the only fire that has happened in the Salamander area – a suburb that has dilapidated government flats and houses built in the 1960s during the Australian administration.


A few years earlier, Apelis and others on his street helped put out another fire which destroyed a flat about 20 meters from his current place of residence. He tells a similar story.


“The fire truck ran out of water. They had to go back to the station.  Later, when they tried connecting a hose to a hydrant, they found the hose too short.”


The PNG fire Service was criticized yet again last week when the Brian Bell Home Centre was destroyed in the latest wave of major fires in less than two years.


Attempts to get a response from the Lae Fire station commander were not successful.  The station commander is currently on leave. His replacement has not taken up his post yet.

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