Odd coincidence

Police may be asked to investigate why SIWA hydrant “turned off” during Chinatown fires

By Alfred Sasako


POLICE are expected to be asked to look into why a fire hydrant closest to two fires in Chinatown last week was allegedly turned off while firemen were battling the blazes.

The first fire destroyed three buildings which once housed the Aba Corporation, known to thousands of locals throughout the nation as Aba Store.

Police are still investigating the cause of the early Thursday morning fire, which destroyed a family heritage of three generations, spanning some 70 years.

It was while firemen were battling the blaze that the fire hydrant in Chinatown appeared to have run out of, forcing a fire tank to race back to Rove – about 4km away – to get fresh water supplies for the fire engines fighting the fire.

Millions of dollars’ worth of goods were destroyed in the blaze.

The second fire gutted a nearby building in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The episode of the fire hydrant running out of water also happened while firemen were fighting the blaze, which gutted the Cheng building.

It is understood the Solomon Islands – China Association (SICA) – is taking up the matter with the Solomon Islands Water Authority (SIWA) as it is concerned about the fire hydrant drying up during fire fighting emergencies as was the case last week.

Insiders said SIWA needs to check that all its fire hydrant in Honiara are working.

It is understood this was the third time the Cheng Building went up in smoke. The building which caught fire last Saturday was built after the 2006 civil unrest. It is the third time the building was gutted by fire.

The Cheng Building was owned by the same individual who owns the large Cheng Hardware at Kukum along the Kukum Highway in east Honiara.

In response to this article, police last night gave the following: “The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) Fire and Rescue Service confirms that during the two incidents of fire at China Town in Central Honiara, namely the Abba Shop and Cheng Building recently, Fire and Rescue officers had to get re-supply of water from Rove as there was no water available in the piping system that is usually available to the Fire and Rescue Service in the vicinity of both the buildings.

“The Fire and Rescue Service continues to investigate the possible cause of both fires. Anyone with any information should contact the Police.

“RSIPF Fire and Rescue Service can be contacted on phone 24476 or the Police Communication Centre on phone 23666 or the toll free 999.”

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