Electrical fault cause of blaze
Samoa Fire and Emergency Services Authority (S.F.E.S.A.) Commissioner says it wasn't a cigarette butt that triggered the fire that burnt Maria's Mall last week but an electrical fault.
Tanuvasa Petone Mauga told the Samoa Observer in an interview on Monday that preliminary investigations by the SFESA separate from that of the Police have been finalised.
He said the authority reached that conclusion after studying CCTV footage as it appeared that the fire started from the inside of the building.
"After looking at some CCTV cameras around the area, we have made the final report that it was electrical errors that caused the fire because it started from inside," said Tanuvasa. "Yes, there was a fire from the rubbish bin but there weren't many CCTV cameras around the area to identify that.
"But we confirmed that the fire indeed started from inside just next to the rubbish bin. The police are still doing their investigations but from our end, we only focus on the original cause of the fire and that's our final decision and report."
Asked whether the family owners of Maria's Mall had been formally advised of the authority's findings, the Commissioner said "no".
Last week, Tanuvasa said the S.F.E.S.A. investigation unit suspects a cigarette butt as the cause of the fire after initial investigations and interviews with eyewitnesses who were around the area at the time of the blaze.
The fire not only destroyed Maria's Mall in Apia but also spread to the neighbouring building causing tenants to relocate their businesses. The fire broke out around 6 am last Wednesday morning with responders from S.F.E.S.A. and Electrical Power Corporation (E.P.C.) driving to the incident. The firefighters managed to save some of the adjacent properties while most of the two-storey building was damaged.
Local businesses that were directly affected by the blaze including Talofa Airways, Maria's Pharmacy Healthcare, and TV3 also sustained damages from the fire.
Due to the extremely high temperature of the blaze, the TV3 broadcasting station moved to their other office in Vaitele as the fire also destroyed most of their property. The fire spread to the roof of the building next door and lit about five of their rooms.
TV3 employee, Vaipua Pesaleli who got to the office earlier on Wednesday before the fire broke out, said the fire took him by surprise and he fortunately managed to escape.
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