By Samuel Oyadongha
Yenagoaâ€”No fewer than sixty fishermen, among them women, aged persons and children, yesterday narrowly escaped being roasted alive when a midnight fire gutted the Imkpikiri fishing settlement in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The fishing settlement located on the Atlantic fringe and made up of makeshift structures, was completely razed by the inferno leaving the inhabitants homeless.
The conflagration destroyed property worth millions of naira, including houses, canoes and fishing gears, undisclosed amount of cash as well as their catch for the day.
Though it could not be confirmed if any life was lost in the tragic incident, a source blamed the inferno on carelessness on the part of a woman who was smoking her catch for the day without realizing that petrol was stored close to the flame which ignited the fire.
The woman reportedly set up the fire midnight to smoke her fish after a successful expedition only to doze off due to tiredness.
Narrating the incident to newsmen, one of the victims, Mr. Temple Alogba, said the fire started at midnight as the old woman was smoking her catch.
Describing the inferno as a mystery, Alogba expressed gratitude to God for sparing their lives, eventhough they lost all their valuables to the inferno.
He called on Bayelsa State government and Brass local government council to come to the aid of the victims who are now homeless and exposed to the vagaries of the weather.
Alarmed by the level of destruction caused by the fire, Chairman of Brass Local Government Area, Mr. Nathaniel Ngo-Sylva, called on the state government to assist the fishing community with relief materials to alleviate their sufferings.
He also assured the community that the council would liaise with the state government to send relief materials to the victims.
The council boss assured the displaced families that the council would set up a panel to investigate incessant fire out break in the area and find lasting solution to the menace.
He sympathized with the victims of the fishing settlement and called on them to desist from smoking their fish near inflammable objects.