The Corporate Affairs Manager of Groupe Nduom, Richmond Keelson, has revealed that firefighters who thronged the premises of the Coconut Grove Regency Hotel in Accra to douse the fire that gutted portions of the building on Saturday were more concerned about their safety than putting out the blaze.
The hotel, owned by businessman and politician Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, caught fire and destroyed several items. No one was hurt in the inferno.
Speaking on this matter in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom, on Accra100.5FM on Monday April 24, Mr Keelson said: “When I got to the scene I saw that the fire workers had come over there but their demeanour and actions showed that they were not going to be able to deal with the fire situation.
“They were more interested in protecting their own lives but I don’t blame them because the kits that they needed to do their work were not there and so the situation was like some civilians who were fighting the fire.
“I cannot say for now what really caused the incident. The fire workers are doing their own investigations, the police, navy, and the military who later joined in dousing the fire are also carrying out their investigations. We are also doing our private investigations and so I cannot tell exactly what happened now.”
But responding to these comments in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson on the same programme, Mr Billy Anaglate, the Public Relations Officer of the Ghana National Fire Service, said: “It is just unfortunate that instead of the public commending the Fire Service for the good job that we have been doing to protect their lives and their properties, we rather receive condemnation.
“I am saying this because anytime there is fire, people want to be heard being socially responsible so they try to accuse people that [risk] their lives to protect their properties and their lives. If we look at what happened at Coconut Grove Hotel yesterday, we had a call at 17:21hrs and we got there in less than three minutes, only to realise that we needed assistance to fight the fire.
“Our information gathered and the investigation conducted since yesterday and today reveal that the people called us barely 25 minutes after they discovered the fire. Not even the people that were working there informed the Fire Service. It was a taxi driver who was driving past and saw the fire who drove to our Fire Service headquarters. Based on that, we dispatched a tender that got there in less than three minutes. So within those 25 minutes that the people saw the fire, why couldn’t any one of them call? They claim they called the Fire Service but I asked the one what time he called and he said he was calling but could not get through to our office. I asked again ‘which number were you calling?’ and he told me 191. Meanwhile 191 is not Fire Service number; 191 does not come to Fire Service.”