Troops and other security agents on duty at the Cameroon General Certificate of Education Board, GCEB, Head Office in Buea, were caught napping when a mysterious fire broke out and ravaged part of the building.
The incident, which happened in the early hours of Sunday, May 21, caused panic at the Board as the Communication Department was partially razed.
Following a tip off from a source, The Post rushed to the scene to establish the cause of the fire outbreak and the extent of the damage on the public building.
But these reporters were denied access into the Board’s premises, which was now teeming with additional troops, drafted in to contain the fire.
From outside the gate of the Board’s premises, one could spot thick cloud of smoke that bellowed remorselessly out of the windowpanes, as the troops now joined by the staff of a filling station adjacent the Board grappled to put out the flames.
With the help of fire extinguishers from the filling stations, the fire was finally contained, but the smoke-darkened wall above the windowpane of the Board’s Communication’s office bore the residues of the fire.
Unlike other offices facing the road, the window curtains of the burnt office were not there. The curtains had apparently been consumed with other items by the fire. This made the partially razed office stand out from the other offices that were unaffected by the fire.
Speaking to The Post, a staff of the GCE Board, who refused to be named, said “the fire was caused by the explosion of the Air Condition, AC, in the Director of Communications office.
From what we saw, the Communications Director, Mathew Takwi, left his AC on and went home. We are suspecting that after working all through the night, the AC got heated and then exploded. Unfortunately, after the explosion, the particles failed on another colleague’s chair and caught fire. The fire spread to the curtains and started engulfed other items in the office. It is thanks to the police that were on guard that saw the smoke circling in the building that they raised and alarm before we rushed to the building to put out the fire.
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 this is not the first time in recent weeks that there has been a fire incident at the GCE Board premises. According to our source, a taxi recently caught fire in front of the Board by 3:00am and it only took the vigilance of the night watch man to contain the fire.
GCE Board Registrar, Workers Denied Access To Burnt Room
Meanwhile, our dependable source further asserted that in the wake of the fire incident, the GCE Board Registrar, Dr Humphrey Ekema Monono, was denied access to the burnt room by the security officers, who were drafted in to control the situation.
Some workers of the Board were even denied access into the building. The Police office said it was unwise to let people into the building because they may come in and complete the job, since they were still unable to ascertain the origin of the fire.
It only took the intervention of the Board Chair before they were granted access into the premises for an extra-ordinary meeting.
Stormy Meeting After Fire Scare
Meantime, our source said after the fire incident, Dr Ekema Monono quickly convened and extra-ordinary meeting with the staff in which he advised everybody to be vigilant, especially during this period when the Board is administering the GCE exams.
According to him, the Board is becoming more and more unsafe. Dr Monono advised all the staff of the Board to remove their private documents in the office to avert
The troops deployed to the scene dispersed the few persons around the vicinity, in the bid to prevent the incident from creating a scene, and making more people aware of the fire incident.
The burning of public buildings, especially schools have recently increased, as the examination period draws near. Some buildings and schools, especially those that are government-owned have been the target of the arsonists. For now, with the information hoarding habits of state personnel, The Post cannot make out whether the GCE board fire incident is an act perpetrated by the arsonist group, or whether it is a natural fire incident caused by an internal electric fault inside the building.