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Fire leaves family homeless

Litia Vulaidausiga
Thursday, August 07, 2014

A SERIES of fires on Tuesday has left a family homeless, a high school without a canteen and damage to the Lautoka Port terminal.

Flames from a burning sugarcane field at Lomolomo engulfed the five-bedroom home of Atish Dip about 3.30pm on Tuesday.

His paralysed father had to be carried out as flames approached from a neighbouring cane field on a hill behind Lomolomo Village, outside Lautoka.

Mr Dip said the house was only a year old, with damage from the fire estimated at $120,000.

Police said the fire spread from the cane farm aided by strong winds.

"The occupants were at home when the fire started and tried to put out the fire but failed," police said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, a security officer at Saint Thomas High School was left hapless as a fire extinguisher was locked in a building that caught fire.

Flames ravaged the aged block, which housed a caretaker's room and canteen, about 3.30am on Tuesday.

School principal Brother Sahai said by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the building was fully engulfed.

"The fire went on for about an hour and started in the caretaker's room," he said.

"There were no provisions for the security officer on duty because the extinguisher was inside the canteen, which was locked.

"It's an old school block and there is yet to be confirmation on the cause of the fire."

No injuries were reported, with the damage sustained estimated at $25,000 to $30,000.

The scene has been cordoned off and Mr Sahai said they would await a report from the National Fire Authority, which had begun investigations.

Police said both the house and school building were not insured.

In a separate incident during lunch hour on the same day, part of the Fiji Ports' Lautoka terminal also caught fire.

NFA media liaison officer Ritesh Kumar said the fire at its engine room was minor and was diffused by firefighters before it could spread.

Police say efforts by terminal employees to put the fire out had failed.

"A forklift was partly burned, there were no casualties and cost of damage is yet to be established."

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