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A second fire at Byimana

28/05/2013: Rwanda

On Monday 20 May 2013, around 7.45 pm, a new fire broke out in the School of Sciences of Byimana. The alarm was given at the moment all the students were gathered in the refectory for the evening meal. This new disaster occurred when the students of Senior classes 1 and 2 (the two first secondary classes) had been back for eight days, after three weeks at home. The classes of Senior 3 had been able to return a week earlier. And work had begun as usual, with the installation of two dormitories in place of the two refectories, and the transformation of the all-purpose room into a refectory (see about the first fire). 

When the community was notified, a little before 8.00, the fire had already burst through the sheet metal roof over the dormitory situated between the kitchen and the chapel, and had attacked the end of the chapel. We succeeded in saving the electronic organ and some other objects, but it was no longer possible to get near the tabernacle and save the Blessed Sacrament. With the teachers and workers, we then undertook, despite the smoke invading the places, to put in a safe place all the things in the second dormitory, situated on the other side of the kitchen. And, thanks to the help of many neighbours and soldiers, we had to do the same with the twenty tons of food reserves stored in the storehouse adjacent to the kitchen.

Fortunately, the kitchen is separated from the dormitory (former refectory) by a wall which almost reaches the roof : so the fire was not able to spread on that side, and therefore the second half of the building was preserved. It was not the same with the wall separating the dormitory and the chapel : this is why it caught fire immediately. The firemen arrived from Kigali two hours after the fire broke out ; they were only able to hose down some rafters of the ceiling, which ended up reduced to ashes.

About 150 boys lost their luggage for the second time. 150 mattresses and as many blankets disappeared in the flames, and 75 beds on both stories have to be repaired… The most important damage, however, concerns the building. Above the dormitory, for example, the metallic framework is out of shape. The Blessed Sacrament was preserved ; the ciboriums have been placed in the community chapel. The statue of Our Lady of  Lourdes, present in the chapel, blackened by the heat, was broken when the students tried to remove it.

If the hypothesis of an electrical fault could be considered as a possible cause of the first fire, although not one shared by those who observed the start of the fire, there is no doubt now that the electricity cannot be blamed for this second blaze. A serious enquiry is underway. The Police have discretely undertaken their investigations.

It has been decided that all the students will remain at the school, and that courses will begin again from Wednesday 22 May. While waiting for tents to be provided, the 150 boys, deprived of beds, will sleep on mattresses in the classrooms.

Once again, we thank God that there have not been any victims.

_________
Brother Adrien MERCIER - Superior of the community

____________________

NB – The Province of Central East Africa (PACE) and all the five countries which compose it have been particularly tested lately.  In fact, Brother Valentin, provincial, informs us that the war in the region of Goma, Congo, gives signs of revival ; in Tanzania, during an attack on a Catholic church in Arusha, there were three deaths and more than a hundred wounded ; in Kenya, following the elections, there has been a fresh upsurge of violence in some parts of the country ; in the Central African Republic, even if the situation is already more tranquil, tensions persist between the army and the  rebels. We express our sentiments of solidarity with these countries, we pray for all these peoples, for our religious and educational communities which are present there.

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