Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 December 2015
Christmas celebrations in the east of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone came to an abrupt end yesterday, when fire engulfed a Safecon petrol station located in the Shell Company area of Kissy.
Reports from the scene said that several people were injured and two critically ill, as fuel tanks exploded.
At the height of the massive fire that followed the explosion, hundreds of people living in the area came out to help put out the fire before fire engines arrived.
It is reported that some of the poorly equipped fire fighters and police officers were also injured at the scene.
The dangerously toxic smoke bellowing from the blaze could be seen many miles away from the scene, posing serious risk to those with breathing related conditions such as asthma.
A young man suffering from serious skin burn was seen calling for help. Eye witness reports say that there was no medical team present at the scene to provide emergency care for those injured and suffering from smoke inhalation.
The country’s emergency health care service is almost nonexistent, after many years of neglect and under-investment.
Safety at petrol stations across Sierra Leone is a serious problem because of poor safety regulations and lack of monitoring and enforcement.
In Nigeria a huge explosion rocked the district of Nnewi in Anambra State on Christmas eve, when a butane gas depot caught fire leaving more than 100 people dead and several injured. Most of the workers and customers at the fuel depot were burnt beyond recognition. (Photo: A young man suffered skin burn at the fire in Freetown.)
“My heart and prayers go out to these grieving families at this difficult and painful moment,” said Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari.
Eye witnesses say that the fire in Nigeria raged for several hours before being extinguished. Many customers had gone to the depot to purchase butane gas bottles in preparation for the Christmas festivities.
The dead and injured were taken to the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital in Nnewi.
“The fire burned beyond recognition all the workers who were inside that depot at that time and also all the customers inside that depot,” Chukwuemerie Uduchukwu, who went to the scene, told the BBC.
The ferocity of the blast in Nigeria also damaged houses in the surrounding area. A witness told the Vanguard newspaper that the blast was triggered when a truck began discharging cooking gas without waiting for the mandatory cooling time. (Photo: The blaze that rocked the Kissy area of Freetown).
Witnesses described a huge fire with acrid black smoke hanging over the scene of the disaster in Nigeria.
Reports from the scene in Nigeria say that all the customers who went to the gas plant to get a refill were allegedly burnt to death, while some of the victims who were in the neighbourhood and passers-by also got caught in the inferno.
Video of raging fire in Freetown: