The Nile is Burning!

After recently writing about the fire at one of Juba’s hotels, today, we experienced a fire on the Nile River. As I was working at my desk today, I noticed smoke rising above the trees just outside my window. I didn’t think much about the smoke as people are always burning trash in Juba and the smoke was rising up outside the compound. However, about 45 minutes later, my colleagues noticed that the smoke was now rising above the trees where our apartments were located. Our first thought was that the fire had spread from the neighboring compound to our compound. So we rushed out of the office and headed to the living quarters. As it turned out, one of the oil barges that often float down the river was on fire. While we don’t know the cause of the mystery floating fire, this is not the first time that this occurrence has taken place.

Before I arrived in Juba, a similar event took place; however, this episode damaged homes. A worker was smoking on the barge when it caught fire in the harbor. As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, there are very few fire trucks in Juba so instead of waiting for the fire brigade to arrive, the workers decided to push the boat out into the water. The barge floated down river until it ran aground and the fire consumed several houses before it eventually burned out.

I actually heard the sirens of the fire brigade today. I learned that once the fire brigade is alerted of an emergency, it must pump water from the river to use on the fire. So by the time it arrives at an emergency, its objective is minimizing the collateral damage versus saving the structure that is currently on fire.

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