A mysterious fire that broke out Sunday, May 21 burnt an office at the Cameroon General Certificate of Education, GCE, Board, head office in Buea, Southwest Region.
The fired that gutted the Communication Department of the Board caused panic.
Following a tip-off, The Post reporters rushed to the scene to establish the cause of the fire outbreak and the extent of damage on the public building, but they were denied access into the Board’s premises.
Nonetheless, a cloud of smoke could be seen billowing through the windows, now without curtains, while the troops now joined by the staff of a nearby filling station struggled to put out the flames.
The fire was finally contained with fire extinguishers from the filling station.
Meanwhile, according to a staff of the GCE Board, who refused to be named, the fire was caused by the explosion of an air condition installation in the office of the Director of Communications.
“From what we saw, the Communications Director, left his AC on and went home. We are suspecting that after working all through the night, the AC heated up and then exploded.
Unfortunately after the explosion, some particles fell on the chair and caught fire.
The fire spread to the curtains and engulfed other items in the office,” said the staff member.
The staff member said it was thanks to the policemen on guard who saw the smoke ensuing from the building and raised an alarm before they rushed to put out the fire.
For his part, the Registrar of the GCE Board, Dr. Humphrey Ekema Monono, told The Post, “Investigations are being carried out by the forces of law and order to establish the cause of the fire incident.”
No Fire Extinguishers At GCE Board
“When we got into the building, we had difficulties containing the fire because there were no fire extinguishers in the building; we were only rescued by the staff of the filling station across the road who helped us with their fire extinguisher,” our source recounted.
He further asserted that it was not the first time in recent weeks that a fire broke out at the GCE Board premises.
According to our source, a taxi recently caught fire in front of the Board at about 3:00am and it took the vigilance of the night watchman and others to contain the fire.
GCE Board Registrar, Workers Denied Access To Burnt Room
Meanwhile, The Post learnt that in the wake of the fire incident, security officers denied the GCE Board Registrar access to the burnt room.
Some employees of the Board were also denied access into the building, because, as the police said, it was unwise to let people into the building as they might aggravate the situation since they were still unable to ascertain the origin of the fire.
It was only after the GCE Board Chair, Dr. Peter Abety, intervened before the staff was allowed into the building for an extra-ordinary meeting. Stormy Meeting
The Post also learnt that after the fire incident, the Registrar quickly convened and extra-ordinary meeting during which he advised the staff to be vigilant, especially during this period of examinations. According to Monono, the Board is becoming more and more unsafe, even for the staff.
He advised all the staff to remove their private documents from the office to avert any unforeseen circumstances. Strange Incidents
The fire incident comes after some strange happenings have punctuated this year’s edition of the GCE exams.
At the start of the practicals of the GCE exams, a swarm of bees caused pandemonium at Government High School, GHS, Buea Town. The bee incident occurred hours after a fire gutted GHS Bonadikombo (Mile 4) Limbe, destroying examination papers in that college.
Both the GHS Bonadikumbo and Buea Town incidents happened barley a week after Southwest Governor, Okalia Bilai, accused teachers of GBHS Nguti of burning the school.
But the Divisional Delegate in charge of Nguti, told the Minister of Secondary Education during a working visit to the Southwest Region that the students suddenly appeared on campus when it was announced that the mock exams were to begin.
“The Principal was happy that students were finally in school, but the students rallied themselves and marched towards the Principal’s office and set it on fire, together with the mock examination question papers,” the Delegate had told the Minister.
However, many have argued that the burning of GHS Bonadikumbo, GBHS Nguti, and GS Atua Kom in the Northwest Region, the bee attack at GHS Buea Town and the fire incident at the GCE Board, are not unconnected to the resentment of the Anglophones against the regime.
Source: The Post Newspaper