Four Evacuated in Levuka Fire That Destroyed Heritage Building 

A fire early this morning completely destroyed the old hospital, a heritage-listed building, in Fiji’s old capital of Levuka, Ovalau.

There were no casualties reported however authorities had to move four patients admitted to the new hospital to Levuka Vakaviti Village out of safety.

Upon arriving at the scene, firefighters found the vacant four-room wooden heritage building, located between the new Levuka Hospital and the hospital mortuary, fully engulfed in flames.

“Being a wooden building and fanned by a sea breeze, the fire spread rapidly,” Puamau Sowane, National Fire Authority CEO said.

“The fire spread was so rapid and intense that the fire crew focused on containing the fire and preventing its spread to the new hospital and mortuary, which were also wooden buildings and in very close proximity. By 12.56am the duty crew managed to extinguish the fire with support from their tank supply, but the heritage building was completely destroyed.”

Sowane acknowledged the assistance rendered to his officers by other service agencies in Levuka including the Fiji Corrections Services, the Water Authority, police officers, PAFCO staff, and Levuka club security officers in “preventing a potential catastrophe in the old capital.”

He also hopes the incident will prompt owners of heritage-listed buildings across the country to be vigilant in ensuring their properties are compliant with fire safety requirements given the importance of history and heritage to the society.

“They must ensure that if such properties are vacant then they must have security guards to secure them. The property in question is a heritage-listed building and the onus is on the property owners to ensure they adhere to the guidelines laid down for the conservation, monitoring, protection and management of heritage-listed properties.”

Investigations will be conducted to determine the cause of the fire.

Photo: NFA

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