Fire destroys communications building at USP’s Fiji campus

Fire fighters combat a raging blaze on the second level of the Communications Building at USP’s Laucala campus in Suva. Image: Lasarusa Donuvakayanuyanu/Wansolwara

By Wansolwara staff in Suva

Staff and students at the University of the South Pacific in Suva could only look on in shock after a major fire broke out at the Communications Building on Laucala campus yesterday.

Firefighters continued to battle the raging flames even after midday but their attempts to save much of the three-storey building from massive damage were in vain.

The Communications Building houses several important departments including the Centre for Flexible Learning, Student Academic Services on the ground floor, and the Pacific TAFE offices, which were badly burnt.

USP management was awaiting an assessment from the National Fire Authority with the cost of damage expected to soar. Meanwhile, alternative work arrangements have been made for staff affected by the fire.

The university’s acting vice-president (digital services and human resources), Associate Professor Anjeela Jokhan, said it was a sad occasion but reassuring to know that no one was injured during the incident.

“While NFA has been trying to contain the fire, there was still a lot of smoke coming out of the building, particularly from behind the building,” Associate Professor Jokhan said, in an email to staff and students.

Nearby fire alarm
Smoke emitting from the building became intense, setting off the fire alarm at the Faculty of Arts, Law and Education building adjacent to the Communications Building.

The hazardous situation also resulted in the evacuation of staff working behind the building, particularly at the USP Book Centre and security office.

Associate Professor Jokhan said assessment works on the safety of the area would be carried out over the weekend. However, all other sections of the university would operate as normal.

The USP Journalism Programme newspaper Wansolwara and the Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report have a content sharing agreement.

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Wansolwara is an award-winning student newspaper produced by students enrolled in the undergraduate journalism programme of the University of the South Pacific. Wansolwara is pidgin for "one ocean, one people".