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Massive fire in Susan Bay, Freetown in Sierra Leone: Thousands left homeless

Susan’s Bay, one of the poorest slum communities in Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown was destroyed in a massive fire that broke out on the night of Wednesday, March 24. The Freetown is the capital and largest city of Republic of Sierra Leone, a country on the southwest coast of West Africa.

Freetown City Council said “The extent of the damage is unknown but thousands are likely to have been affected. We will provide more details as we receive them. Keep affected residents in your thoughts and prayers!”

The fire broke out at about 6 pm on Wednesday, quickly tearing through Susan’s Bay, a community clustered on Freetown’s seafront. Most of the houses in the area were built with pieces of timber and metal sheets making it easy for the fire to spread fast.

Many households in slum areas use kerosene lamps for lighting. Other than this poor electrical wiring and illegal tapping into the national electricity grid are all possible reasons for causing the fire.

“The entire community has burned to the ground. Once again, there was no access or the fire service. A six-story building under construction blocked what access there previously would have been,”  said Freetown’s mayor, Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, in a statement posted on Facebook. It further read “Disaster risk reduction cannot happen without effective urban planning and building permit regime which is focused on reducing environmental and manmade risks.”

The rehabilitation of the people to properly planned accommodation units in safer areas with easy access is the only way to prevent such disasters in the future.

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