Berehanena Selam Printing Enterprise (BSPE)says the cause of its March 22 fire is still unknown. According to the company’s Public Relations office, the fire started in their backyard, where papers are temporarily stored, around 3 pm.
The fire was extinguished within two hours, without any loss of life or limb or severe property damage. It didn’t reach the main building; the location of the offices, the printing machines and many records. Two Berhanena Selam employees and four fire fighters sustained some injuries while trying to get the situation under control.
Though electricity was cut off all around the 4kilo area during the fire, the enterprise never stopped printing according to Meseret Shiferaw, ¬public relations officer at BSPE. This enabled the enterprise to deliver its products on time.
“We have safety measures and at least two people who are trained to handle fires on every floor,” says Meseret. “This accident was only possible because it was Saturday and there was a gap in between shifts when there was no one in attendance.”
The extent of the damage is not yet known. An investigative team composed of employees from the administrative department as well as the general work force was formed in response to the fire and started examining the area immediately.
In addition to the newspapers and other regular work, Berhanena Selam was also printing this year’s 10th and 12th grade national examination papers as well as some confidential documents.
This isn’t the first fire accident that the institution has encountered. Fires are a common occurrence at BSPE due to the papers and the machines that are used in its work, according to Meseret. But this is the first time where outside intervention was required to control and minimize the damage.
Established in 1921 as a small newspaper printer, Berhanena Selam is the largest printing house in Ethiopia.