Manu’a Store in American Samoa Gutted By Fire

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Manu’a Store in American Samoa Gutted By Fire Many employees left jobless, source of fire unknown

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Sept. 25, 2012) – The fire that burned Manu’a Store to the ground on Friday evening has resulted in the loss of employment of close to 50 employees, says Manu’a Chen, the owner of business.

Chen said he was at the store when the fire occurred, saying it came from where the materials were located and it spread out to the entire store.

He said he was informed by his employees who were running out the door that smoke was coming from inside the store and they contacted the police for assistance.

"The fire was spreading too fast through the store," he said.

Chen said the firemen arrived 10-15 minutes after the call and some firemen were spraying water onto the buildings next to Manu’a to hold the fire off, while other firemen were trying to eliminate the fire in his store. However, their efforts were unsuccessful.

Speaking with Samoa News, Chen said he was scared for the safety of the people who were working at the store and wanted to make sure that everyone had got out.

He said at the moment police are investigating as to why and how the fire started in the first place.

Deputy Commissioner Leiseau Laumoli confirmed that the investigation into this matter is being handled by the Criminal Investigation Division with Commander Lavata’i Taase Sagapolutele and his detectives.

Samoa News asked Chen for an estimated value of what had been destroyed by the fire. He said that "there was a lot of materials, which are expensive, cell phones and many other items… I cannot say how much the value is because there was a lot."

Manu’a has a second store located in Pago Pago where Chen is now trying to place some of his employees who worked at the Malaeimi store.

He told Samoa News that he’s temporarily extending working hours for his store in Pago Pago and making two shifts so he can place some of the workers there, however not everyone who worked at the Manu’a store in Malaeimi will be hired to work in Pago Pago.

He says it’s very upsetting that those who worked for the store for many years now have no job to care for their families.

The Manu’a store was first opened in Malaeimi in March 2005, with a huge expansion last year. In the meantime, police officers are currently posted outside the Manu’a store securing the area.

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