Sep 15, 2011 News
Prompt action by the Linden Fire Service averted what could have been a major catastrophe early yesterday morning at the Wismar/Christianburg Secondary School on Blueberry Hill, Wismar, Linden.
A fire which started shortly after 2;00 hours in the staff washroom area of the upper flat of the 36-year-old building, was fortunately contained to that area, through the unrelenting battle waged by fire fighters.
However, teachers who occupied the eight apartments on the lower flat of the building were taking no chances and removed most of their household belongings and other valuables.
News of the fire spread quickly and many persons, including Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo, Principal of the school, Cleveland Thomas, and many teachers attached to the institution raced to the facility to get a first hand glimpse of what they thought was a serious tragedy.
However the fire was eventually brought under control by the fire service which though greatly impeded by an inadequate water supply, fought valiantly to put out what threatened to be a monumental conflagration.
Several trips up and down hill to source water from the Demerara River were however necessary as there was reportedly no water in the school reservoir.
Water from the reservoir was used up on Tuesday, and the lone fire hydrant in the school compound could not function because the pump at Wisroc from which water is sourced is presently down.
As firemen doused the blazing portion of the school repeatedly, several women prayed for the building to be saved.
Applause erupted after it became evident that the building would be saved after all.
Regional Chairman Mortimer Mingo said that he received the call about the fire about an hour after the blaze started and immediately left for the school.
Mingo said that by the time he got to the school the fire was already raging, and the fire tenders were making several trips to the river to source water.
He added that because of the distance from the school to the river, the threat to the building increased with every trip, as the fire appeared to be gaining in intensity.
He was however happy that the battle was won by the firemen, and not the other way around as frequently happens.
He noted that it could have been much worse, pointing out that while the fire service responded promptly, the unavailability of water posed a serious problem.
Mingo emphasized the need for improved fire fighting equipment for the service.
Those sentiments were reiterated by several citizens. One man said that the time has come for the fire service to be equipped with modern equipment, including long ladders to facilitate climbing to get to the top of high rise buildings such as the multilateral school.
He also said that the trucks should be fitted with bonecutters to cut through grillwork to gain access to burning buildings.
Roxanne Bacchus, one of the teachers who resides on the bottom flat of the building said that she was awakened by a strange sound coming from the upper floor of the building. Bacchus said that after listening to the sound for some time, she awakened her son and told him about the sound.
“He said ‘Mommy is probably thief’, so I told him not to make any noise but to listen and I put on the outside light. Then we started to hear what sounded like things falling down, so we went outside to investigate, and then is when we saw the top floor engulfed in flames.
So I run through the gate and started to call out to the neighbours community who responded promptly.”
Lois Moseley, another teacher who resided in the building, said that she was awakened by the screams of the neighbours, and immediately ran outside to see what the commotion was about.
“This fire was blazing through the roof so with that you would assume that it would spread really quickly so everybody start fetching out the stuff and so on, but we had a lot of help from the community, thank God.
“I’m alive, and I’ll always be thankful to God,” Moseley added.
Everyone was happy that the school was saved, including the Principal Cleveland Thomas, who said that he was in shock after he received the call about the fire.
“I got this call around three thirty telling me about the fire. I subsequently dialed 911 and the REO among other persons.
Concerning the source of the fire- I do not know, but I do know that we have some electrical panels, to the immediate right from where I’m standing, in the female washroom. We also have other panels on the second and ground floors, so I don’t know whether the fire could be electrical in origin.
“At least I don’t expect anyone to be doing this to an educational institution–I hope it’s not any form of arson, because the school is really doing well right now.”
There was no school yesterday, but the annual graduation exercises are still slated for tomorrow.
The Wismar/Christianburg Secondary School has about 1,200 students and 56 teachers.
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