LIBERIA: Fire Service Releases ‘Investigative’ Report Of Fire That Guttered The Home Of Opposition Party Chairman, Luther Tarpeh
The Liberia National Fire Service has released its investigative report on the August 12, 2022 fire disaster that destroyed the residence of the National Chairman of the opposition Unity Party (UP), Rev. Luther Tarpeh house.
Following the incident, Rev. Tarpeh speaking to several journalists at his residence, Chairman Tarpeh lamented that the fire started from the garage of the house and burned his vehicle beyond repair at 1:00 am.
According to him, his neighbors saw the fire, alerted them, and came to their rescue but were over powered by the fire.
He disclosed that there were eight occupants in the house when the fire started but only one person got badly injured and has been taken to the hospital for medical treatment.
When reporters asked about the source of electricity at his home, Rev. Tarpeh announced that he uses solar panels and a diesel generator interchangeably for the past three months because of the absence of LEC in their community.
Rev. Tarpeh has also claimed that since he became chairman of the unity party, there have been strange vehicles seen parked at the gate of his residence and his school has also been invaded.
But in its findings, a statement released by the Director of the National Fire Service below:
Date of Incident: August 12, 2022
Time of Incident: 0100hrs
Cause of Incident: OVERHEATED EXTENSION CORD
Class of Fire Incident: CLASS “C”
Location: REHAB COMMUNITY, PAYNESVILLE
Name of Occupant/Owner: REV. J. LUTHER TARPEH
Nature of Occupancy: RESIDENTIAL
Injury: Nathaniel Tarpeh
Estimated Loss: PENDING SUBMISSION BY OWNER
The Fire Investigator observed, inquired and confirmed the following:
➢ A three bed-room structure owned by Rev. J. Luther Tarpeh that was being used as boys’ quarters was totally destroyed by fire with all its contents.
➢ No break-in was observed around the entire fence.
➢ The entire compound is fenced in, so nobody can enter anywhere except through the main entrance.
➢ Mr. Alex Railey, the security officer, was awake and well posted.
➢ The height of the fence is 9ft or 108inches with broken glasses installed on top.
➢ The distance between the fence and the house is 17ft.
Mr. Alex Railey’s Account:
“At 1:00am, Rev. Tarpeh came out to ask Aaron Nimely Paye to switch power. I walked there, but when I was approaching the house, I smelt something burning like rubber. So, I said something burning oh. Aaron went to switch power. When he came back, he said oh I’m smelling something burning too”.
Mr. Aaron Nimely Paye’s Account:
“I usually switch power by 11:00 or 11:30pm but that night, I over slept because I was too tired. I heard Rev. Tarpeh knocking at my window. I woke up and went out. He told me to switch power. When I was going to switch power, I heard Raily saying I smelling something burning. So, I went to the power house and switch from the gasoline generator to the diesel generator. When I came back, myself smelt something burning. So, I decided to find out where the smell was coming from. I used the kitchen door to enter the house, because the front door was locked. When I went in, I saw heavy smoke in the living room and fire blazing at the window. I shouted fire in the house! I went to the next room and told my brothers to get out. We got out and left Nathaniel Tarpeh there because he was in the other room sleeping. I went back in and helped him to get out and the neighbors came to help but the fire had already developed. We called fire service for help but they never came”.
➢ Electricity is being supplied in the compound by there power sources; solar panel, generator and LEC. But LEC power has not being supplied for the past few weeks.
➢ When the fire started, two vehicles were parked in the garage. The one that was close to the fence was saved (driven away by the owner) and the one near the house burnt completely. INVESTIGATOR’S REMARKS/ANALYSIS
➢ There was no break-in observed around the entire fence.
➢ A petrol bomb or Molotov cocktail is a single bomb made from a bottle filed with gasoline and stuffed with a piece of cloth that is lit just before the bottle is thrown.
➢ Had it been a petrol bomb used, it would have landed on the roof of the garage or on the roof of the house.
➢ Mr. Alex Railey, the security, who was awake and well posted would have seen the flame since it is lighted before being thrown or heard the sound on the zinc.
➢ If it was petrol bomb, the fire would be observed on the roof of the garage or the house, instead, he smelt something burning. This means that something was burning gradually.
➢ It is always advisable to unplug your extension cords when they aren’t being used.
➢ Unplugging your extension cord will help protect you from shock or fire while also prolonging the life of the cord itself by reducing heat buildup.
➢ Extension cord can overheat and cause fire when used improperly.
➢ In this case, the extension cord in Rev. Luther Tarpeh’s living room left plugged into the wall outlet causing it to OVERHEAT, then fire starts.
Having interviewed MR. AARON NIMELY PAYE, one of Rev. Luther Tarpeh’s sons, and ALEX RAILEY, the security officer, analyzed the clues gathered, the Investigator from the Liberia National Fire Service concluded in his best opinion that the cause of fire is as the result of an OVERHEATED EXTENSION CORD that was not unplugged after use.
Always unplug your appliances, electronics, extension cords and etc. when they are not being used.
Ltc. Moses D. Kollie
Deputy Chief Fire Investigator
Hon. Alex K. Dickson DIRECTOR LNFS/MOJ/R.L.