It is estimated that, at least, 200 shops at the Kantamanto Market in the Accra Central Business District were yesterday gutted by fire, destroying property worth millions of Ghana cedis.
A man yet to be identified sustained some minor burns in the fire eyewitnesses believed to have started around 4:30 a.m. and was sent to a hospital.
The fire also razed down a number of structures around the railway lines in the area.
The eyewitnesses said some persons used buckets of water in attempts to quench the fire whilst some shop owners who heard about the incident ran to the scene to empty their shops to save their goods.
When the Ghanaian Times reporters got to the scene yesterday morning, they saw some of the victims trying to salvage some of their goods from the debris, while others were crying over their losses.
Some of the victims appealed for support from the government to bounce back to business.
There was heavy security presence at the scene to ensure law and order.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), Assistant Chief Fire Officer (ACFO) Timothy Osafo-Affum, confirmed the incident to the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday.
He said the Fire Service had information about the fire and arrived at the scene at 4:41a.m.
The PRO said the GNFS fire tenders arrived at the scene immediately to extinguish the fire.
He said firefighters sought assistance from the Accra Regional Headquarters, the Makola, Ministries, Parliament House, the Electoral Commission, Circle, the National Headquarters, Abelempke, and Osu Castle station in addition to water tankers from the Ghana Police and Prisons Services.
He said personnel from the Ghana Police Service and the National Disaster and Management Organisation were also on hand to fight the inferno.
“In the end, the GNFS was able to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to other areas of the market,” ACFO Osafo-Affum said.
He said items destroyed included mainly clothing and sheds used by the traders for their businesses, adding that “the cause of fire is currently under investigation”.
Regarding challenges, the ACFO said “we have adequate hydrants around but because Ghana Water Company Limited is managing water in Accra, the pressure in them was very low making it impossible to use them, hence the need to seek assistance for water from the police and prison services.”
He said another problem was lack of accessibility to the scene of fire.
ACFO Osafo-Affum, however, appealed to the public to immediately call the Fire Service anytime there is a fire outbreak, adding that “do not wait till the fire escalates before you call upon us. Wasting time will make the fire spread and cause a lot of havoc”.
He said fire safety is a shared responsibility and called on the public to partner the GNFS to clamp down on fire-outbreaks in the country to save lives and property.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Elizabeth Naa Kwatsoe Tawiah Sackey, the Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery and the Inspector General of Police (IGP),Dr George Akuffo- Dampare, have visited the scene to assess the situation.
They extended their sympathies to the affected persons.