Dozens of ex-pupils ‘certificates, academic results, the school file database, are just snapshots of the loss endured Tuesday morning when a massive fire gutted the Administrative Block of St. Peter’s Technical Junior and Senior Secondary School in Lamin.
The fire began about 1am, the school’s Vice Principal Francis M. Gomez told The Chronicle in an exclusive interview. “I was in bed when the school watchman came knocking on my door nonstop, ‘Mr. Gomez wake up the administrative building is on fire!’ he exclaimed. My first reaction was this cannot be real,” Francis said. “But once I arrived on the scene and saw the flames coming out of the building, that’s the time I believed it was real.”
Gomez said they tried using extinguishers at the school in vain, prompting them to call the firefighters in Brikama who could do little upon arrival on the scene to prevent the massive damage.
As a result, dozens of computers, hundreds of books, trophies, refrigerators and personal files of both the school principal and his assistant were incinerated in the blaze. “It was the building that housed the entire school documents since its inception in 1975,” Francis told The Chronicle. “It’s heartbreaking. We’re still in shock because some of these files are irreplaceable.”
Asked about the cause of the outbreak, Gomez did not respond saying the police investigators are working to determine the cause. “At this moment the matter is in the hands of the police investigation unit, so I don’t want to comment on that right now.”
However, Gomez refused to let the spirit of the school be lost in the rubble. “Normal school curriculum duties are uninterrupted,” he says. “Since this unforeseen incident happened, the principal and I assembled the students to calm and encourage them to stay focused and steadfast because we will rise above the flames.”
St. Peter’s is the first technical high school in The Gambia. The school prides itself as the greenest and one of the leading schools in the country.