Fire at Osu’s Oxford Street Destroys Shops, Attracts Crowds, Demonstrates Accessibility Constraints

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The recent fire that ravaged shops, homes and offices just off of Oxford Street, a popular tourist destination in Accra’s Osu neighborhood, took an estimated three hours to bring under control. Why? Because of the inefficiencies and unpreparedness of fire service personnel (who arrived late, allegedly with empty tanks), the large crowds of both Ghanaians and foreigners that took to the street to get a close-up view of the action (and subsequently blocked the street for fire service and police personnel), the need for fire service personnel to go back and forth from the site to their water tanks to refill their water, and the built-up density of the area’s buildings, which prevented fire service from directly accessing the source of the fire to extinguish the flames. The fire occurred Sunday afternoon, when both vehicular and pedestrian traffic are light (as compared to on weekdays). According to the Fire Service, the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction.

Shops on fire just off of Oxford Street in Osu, Accra.