Magazine article New African

Rawlings Is Latest Victim of Fires: A Spate of Fires That Has Gutted State Buildings in the Past Year Claimed the Home of Former President Jerry Rawlings on 14 February, When His Government-Provided Retirement Home in the Heart of the Capital, Accra, Was Completely Destroyed. Stephen Gyasi Reports

Magazine article New African

Rawlings Is Latest Victim of Fires: A Spate of Fires That Has Gutted State Buildings in the Past Year Claimed the Home of Former President Jerry Rawlings on 14 February, When His Government-Provided Retirement Home in the Heart of the Capital, Accra, Was Completely Destroyed. Stephen Gyasi Reports

Article excerpt

THE FIRE THAT COMPLETELY DESTROYED the home of former President Jerry Rawlings on 14 February was the fourth major inferno in Accra since President Atta Mills' government came into office, raising concerns of sabotage or neglect by the occupants of the buildings. Lo and behold, three days after this fire, another one broke out in the storeroom of the Ministry of Information, destroying paraphernalia meant for Ghana's 53rd independence anniversary celebrations.

The spate of fires, which started last year, first struck and completely destroyed the eight-storey office complex of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then it hit the office of the deputy information minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, then it gutted parts of the Tema Oil Refinery, before razing down the Rawlings home. In between, state property worth millions of dollars was destroyed.

"We came with nothing, we leave with nothing," a visibly shaken but philosophical Jerry Rawlings said as he arrived at his burned out home from a weekend travel to Sogakope in his native Volta Region, where he participated in a humanitarian programme for persons suffering from eye diseases. His wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang, and second daughter, Yaa Asantewaa, were in the house when the fire started in the early hours of 14 February, but they escaped unharmed.

The cause of the fire was not known by the time we were going to press. It took hours for personnel from the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) to subdue the fire. Incidentally, it had been raining heavily before, and even during, the fire; and yet it raged on!

A fire service official, Prince Billy Anaglate, said his outfit received a distress call from the Rawlings' home at about 4.20 am on 14 February and arrived at the scene in less than five minutes, but found it difficult to put out the fire because the house had a major component of wood which made it burn quite easily. …

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