Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone: Fire Accident DREF Operation n° MDRSL010 - Final Report



Description of the disaster On 24 March 2021, fire unexpectedly broke out in Susan's Bay, one of the overcrowded slum communities in Freetown the capital city of Sierra Leone where thousands of deprived families, mostly fisher men and petty traders reside. The fires started by 7:30 pm and was halted around 11:00 pm. Unfortunately, before the fire was controlled, it had engulfed the entire community and burnt down most buildings. According to a joint multi-sectorial assessment, the cause of the fire was wrong electrical connection and irregular power supplies as well as inattentive ways of handling fires for domestic purposes within the community. Susan’s Bay is a congested community with limited access to and within. Vehicular access to the community remains impossible, despite a swift response from the National Fire Force, the lack of access roads prevented fire engines from reaching the community to quench the blaze, allowing it to burn for more than three hours. However, with the help of the population, the Fire Force vehicles were able to stretch out their hoses from a distant location to halt the fires.

According to the joint in-depth assessment carried out by the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRCS), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), CARITAS, Freetown City Council (FCC), WFP, and National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), a total of 7,093 people (including 1,208 children) representing 1,597 households were left homeless. A total of 409 people (207 were men, 181 women and 21 children) were injured by the heaps of burnt rubble that used to be their houses. Furthermore, many children were unable to go to school because of the loss of their school materials and other resources in the crisis. Prior to SLRCS’ and IFRC’s intervention, the affected people lived in desperate condition as they lost everything they had, including their makeshift shelters, their clothes, food they had in stock, money, and other valuable properties. The National Disaster Management Agency, being the lead actor, coordinated response of other actors to constructively respond to the incident. Several planning and coordination meetings were held with the various state and non-state actors to guide the response purposefully to meet needs of the affected population.