Vendors Critical Of Slow, Ineffective Response To Samoa Market Fire

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Alleged 20 minute response time not fast enough to contain blaze

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Jan. 18, 2016) – Several stall and shop owners at the destroyed Flea market have turned their anger and disappointment at the Fire Emergency Service Authority’s (FESA) response to the incident that saw the Flea market completely destroyed by fire last Saturday.

Speaking to Talamua today, Stall owners Matalena Lafaialii, Tapu Aliitaua, Sera Malaki and several of their colleagues are blamed FESA for their "failure in saving at least part of the market."

The complainants pointed out 2 reasons to justify their disappointment.

One is the alleged late response to the call for help, and 2, failing to provide assistance when their trucks turned up without water.

According to Tapu who was still waiting for his ride around the area when the fire started, the first fire service team arrived about 20 minutes later.

"It’s a 2 minute drive from their (FESA) office to the flea market, and yet they arrived when the fire has already spread," said Tapu.

Tapu said the fire started from the side where all the restaurants were located then quickly spread inwards into the building.

"It was very windy and I could hear explosion from within the flames," said Tapu.

The explosions were suspected to be from gas cylinders used for cooking at the restaurants area.

FESA Chief Executive Officer was unavailable for comment but one of their senior officers said the report will clarify everything,

He also denied the accusation against from the stall owners. The FESA report has been finalized as investigation continues.

Yesterday, 30 prisoners from Tafa’igata prison were brought in to clear the debris and remains from the fire.

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