On Jan. 23, a house fire ravaged the community of New Billing, or Campo Yaunde, in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. Nearly a hundred homes were destroyed by what was probably a cooking fire, most likely the result of unsupervised children attempting to cook. Fires like this one are a frequent occurrence in communities like New Billing, where the residents live in cramped shacks made of wood and tin.
When the fire brigade finally arrived, the blaze had already been brought under control. Their late arrival hardly mattered—the water tanks of their trucks were empty. The residents of New Billing were left to fend for themselves. They scrambled to empty houses in the path of the fire, trying to save as many possessions as possible. Fortunately, no one died and there were few serious injuries. A similar fire in the same community last November left a 4-year-old boy dead.