Early Monday morning, fire decimated the structure of the former Office of Youth Affairs connected to the back of Palau National Gymnasium. The building was being used as a temporary Supply Office of the Ministry of Finance.
According to Supply staff, shortly upon arriving at the office at around 7:35am, she smelled smoke and was immediately alerted by her colleague to look over her head where smoke was coming from above an air condition unit. She said she saw sparks of fire coming out and immediately called 911. While calling 911, the smoke intensified and she and her colleague were forced to leave the building.
In her rush out of the door, she said she forgot her purse and cellphone in the building but was unable to go back to retrieve because of the rapidly growing fire.
Fire trucks arrived quickly according to the employee’s report but by the time they rolled out the fire hoses, the fire was already raging and visible from outside.
Two fire trucks and firefighters from the Ministry of Justice Fire Unit battled the fire for over an hour. With no fire hydrant accessible, the trucks needed to leave the site to refill and did so in turns.
By the time Airport Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (AARF) unit arrived to assist, most of the fire was already put out or burned out. The team suited up to enter the burning facility to ensure that the fire was completely put out and to prevent possible transfer to the adjacent building of the Palau National Gym according to Minister Charles Obichang of MPIIC who was at the scene with Minister of Justice and Vice President Raynold Oilouch.
Meanwhile concerns that fire may have destroyed government purchase orders, requisitions which are handled by the Office of Supply were quelled by Mr. Frederick Olsudong who works at Office of Supply, who explained that their office backed up their work and transfer hard copies weekly to Ngerulmud.
“Since this is the end of the fiscal year and we closed all purchase orders on September 7th and everything have already been transmitted to Ngerulmud. The only exceptions were the purchase and requisition orders for Independence Day because of the event timing. We will just have to have departments redo their requisitions.”
No official cause of the fire has been released by the Fire Department but employees from the Office of Supply speculate that it may have been some kind of electrical failure that caused the fire. (By L.N. Reklai)