Several morning classes at the University of Guyana (UG) were disrupted on Wednesday after a fire broke out in the Faculty of Health Sciences, damaging a section of the recently renovated building.
The fire started sometime around 10:00h and according to information reaching Guyana Times, it was caused after a generator exploded. A subsequent release from the University revealed that the generator belonged to telecommunications company, Digicel.
“The fire is reported to have originated at the Digicel-owned generator located on the southern side of the recently refurbished Faculty of Health Sciences building on the Turkeyen campus,” the UG statement said.
According to the University, the fire affected only the back stairwell of the building and caused some water and smoke damage in the vicinity. Luckily, however, there were no reports of injuries to neither students nor faculty staff.
This newspaper was told that a student in one of the classes raised the alarm after she looked out the window and saw the fire, resulting in immediate evacuation of the building. At the time, examinations, which were ongoing, had to be abandoned.
The faculty staffers as well as a few students were seen removing equipment, including computers and important documents from various classrooms in the building. Meanwhile, other students from the Health Sciences Faculty, along with others gathered on the lawns watching on as thick dark smoke emanated from the roof of the building.
Moments later, the fire tenders arrived on the scene and rushed into action, dousing the blaze and containing it within minutes. Dean of the Health Sciences Faculty, Dr Emanuel Cummings speaking with this publication, commended the Guyana Fire Service for its efficiency and effectiveness.
“I must complement the fire service for their quick response that they were able to mobilise the fire in one particular area and save the building, even though we’ve lost a stairway and parts of that section,” Cummings noted.
The Dean noted that as customary, the Fire Service together with the University’s maintenance department will further probe the fire. He further described the incident as a major but minor one – major in that a section of the building was destroyed but minor because it would affect classes.
Meanwhile, classes for students of the Health Sciences Faculty were suspended for the remainder of Wednesday and arrangements going forward will be indicated.
The Health Sciences building was recently renovated. Last August, a small fire erupted on some wiring in the same building. However, faculty staffers used extinguishers to put out the blaze.
Guyana Times was told on Wednesday by several students that the building has faulty wiring. Moreover, the students called for better fire prevention and safety measures to be put in place.
“This classroom was renovated just last year and so we are hoping fire safety, precaution measures and other safety measures are put in place to prevent this from reoccurring,” one student said.
Nevertheless, according to Vice Chancellor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith, who is travelling on official business, said he received a call from the CEO of Digicel Guyana, Kevin Kelly, who apologised for the damage and the inconvenience caused to the University community by the fire.
The Vice Chancellor further lauded the professionalism of the Guyana Fire Service and is grateful that there were no injuries. He also thanked UG’s Security and Estates Management teams, and members of his Cabinet for their swift and effective action, and looks forward to having Digicel repair all damages quickly.
On the other hand, Deputy Vice Chancellor Michael Scott, who is the Officer-in-Charge of the University in the absence of the Vice Chancellor, said that “the University stands committed to ensuring the safety and security of students and staff and following the advice of Fire Prevention Officer of the Guyana Fire Service, Mr Andrew Holder, the university would undertake a fire audit of all its facilities.”