General News of Wednesday, 2 October 2002
FIRE gutted the Kotokoraba market in Cape Coast on Monday night, destroying goods worth hundreds of millions of cedis.
About 104 stalls and goods including textiles, provisions, toiletries and foodstuffs were completely destroyed by the fire.
It took a combined team of personnel of the Ghana National Fire Service drawn from Cape Coast, Mankessim, Apam and Takoradi more than two hours to bring the fire, which began at about 7 p.m., under control.
Members of the public and property owners looked on helplessly as the fire spread through the stalls and sheds as fire personnel struggled to bring it under control.
A small number, however, managed to retrieve their goods before the fire could get to their stalls.
It was a pathetic scene as the market was engulfed in a cloud of smoke, with people running helter-skelter.
In all seven fire tenders, four from Cape Coast and one each from Takoradi, Mankessim and Apam and a water tanker also from Takoradi were mobilised to help bring the fire under control.
The Central Regional Fire Officer, Mr Agyarkoh Atobrah, said he received a distress call from someone about the fire outbreak and he quickly mobilised his men to the scene.
He said they got there at exactly 7.06 p.m. but the gates to the market were locked and the personnel had to scale the walls to the roof to combat the fire. Mr Atobrah said the GNFS is still investigating the cause of the fire.
He said it is believed that the fire outbreak could be due to the negligent use of fire by some of the market women. Some of the victims interviewed said they have lost everything in their stalls to the fire.
Two persons, who were among some unscrupulous people who took advantage of the confusion to steal goods were arrested by the police.
They broke into stores, which were not affected by the fire and made away with the goods.
During a visit to the scene yesterday, fire service personnel were seen clearing the debris while some traders were trying to salvage a few items from the damaged stalls. Meanwhile, the Central Regional Minister, Mr Isaac Edumadze, the Municipal Chief Executive, Mr Muniru Arafat Nuhu and the Omanhen of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Osabarima Kwesi Atta have paid separate visits to the market to express their sympathies to the affected persons. Mr Edumadze said measures would be put in place to find a place for the displaced traders to sell their wares in the interim.
Osabarima Kwesi Atta advised the traders to insure their goods against such disasters in future. The market women on their part called on the government to build a new market to accommodate the traders since the present one is congested