National Fire Service Rules out Arson Attack on Unity Party Chairman’s Residence

MONROVIA – The Liberia National Fire Service has blamed the fire disaster that destroyed the home of opposition Unity Party Chairman Rev. Lurther Tarpeh to electrical fault caused by the overheating of an unplugged extension cord.

On August 12, this month, a three bed-room house owned by Rev. Tarpeh used as boys’ quarter was completely burnt along with a car that was parked near it.

Following the incident, the UP and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change descended into a thread of claims and counter claims. Minutes after the incident on Friday, the Unity Party issued a press release, accusing the ruling party of being behind the incident.

It stated: “Reported government-hired arsonists attacked Unity Party Chairman’s home, days after armed men believed to be agents of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change tailed the vehicle of the chairman and party executives to identify locations of their homes.”

“The attackers believed to be operatives of the government of Liberia threw several petrol bombs during the early hours of August 12, 2022 in the fence of Chairman Tarpeh which is believed to have led to the fire.”

The government rejected the Unity Party’s accusations, saying that the accusation was unfair and irresponsible and that the fire incident didn’t bear the signs of an attack by the Coalition of Democratic Change.

“The government is deeply troubled by allegations contained in a press release from the UP alleging that the government sponsored the incident. The party in the release said the government hired thugs to commit arson.”

The Government ordered the National Fire Service to launch an investigation to establish the actual cause of the incident.

No arson attack

In its report, the National Fire Service dispelled claims that the fire was caused by a petrol bomb.

It stated that no break-in was observed around the entire fence as the The entire compound is fenced in, and nobody can enter anywhere except through the main entrance.

The reported added that Mr. Alex Railey, the security officer, was awake and well posted; and given that the height of the fence is 9ft or 108inches with broken glasses installed on top and the distance between the fence and the house is 17ft, the fire would have started on the roof of the house.

Excerpt: “There was no break-in observed around the entire fence. A petrol bomb or Molotov cocktail is a single bomb made from a bottle filed with gasoline and stuffed with a piece of cloth that is lit just before the bottle is thrown.”

It continued: “Had it been a petrol bomb used, it would have landed on the roof of the garage or on the roof of the house.  Mr. Alex Railey, the security, who was awake and well posted would have seen the flame since it is lighted before being thrown or heard the sound on the zinc.  If it was petrol bomb, the fire would be observed on the roof of the garage or the house, instead, he smelt something burning. This means that something was burning gradually.”

“It is always advisable to unplug your extension cords when they aren’t being used.  Unplugging your extension cord will help protect you from shock or fire while also prolonging the life of the cord itself by reducing heat buildup.  Extension cord can overheat and cause fire when used improperly. In this case, the extension cord in Rev. Luther Tarpeh’s living room left plugged into the wall outlet causing it to OVERHEAT, then fire starts.”

In its conclusion and recommendation, the Fires Service said: “Having interviewed MR. AARON NIMELY PAYE, one of Rev. Luther Tarpeh’s sons, and ALEX RAILEY, the security officer, analyzed the clues gathered, the Investigator from the Liberia National Fire Service concluded in his best opinion that the cause of fire is as the result of an OVERHEATED EXTENSION CORD that was not unplugged after use. CAUTION: Always unplug your appliances, electronics, extension cords and etc. when they are not being used.”

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