5 Apr 2004

Fiji's public works department denies it is to blame for fire spreading in Lautoka

3:28 pm on 5 April 2004

The public works department in the Fiji city of Lautoka is denying that it is to blame for the spread of a massive fire which caused millions of dollars of damage.

The mayor, Rajen Gounder, says firefighters were on the scene within minutes but couldn't contain the blaze because there was insufficient water coming out of the hydrants.

The PWD's acting divisional engineer in Lautoka, Ram Krishna, says there was water in the pipes although the pressure may have been low.

"We have a programme in place to fill up the reservoir after the main close of business in the city so that people in the higher ground can get water. At 7 o'clock, they usually reduce the pressure so that the reservoir can be filled up for the people staying on a higher level, can collect some water."

Mr Krishna says the government is undertaking a major upgrading of the water system in the Western division.

Mr Gounder is calling on the minister and the prime minister to launch an investigation.

He says 200 families have been affected with many losing their jobs after the blaze in the downtown area.