By Sola Ogundipe and Chioma Obinna
The fire that broke out Friday night at the Oshodi Central stores, Lagos, office of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, is still raging more than 12 hours after.
When Vanguard arrived the scene of the incident at about 10.00 am Saturday morning, tongues of flames and huge plumes of smoke continued to emanate from the burning building.
Four fire engines marked FG 421 B20, FG 247 B20, LA129 A40, AS 620 GGE and FFS 43 were spotted around the building.
Investigations revealed that a loud explosion had rocked the structure, a warehouse in which several consignments of fake, counterfeit and unwholesome regulated products seized by the Agency were stored, before it went up in flames at about 7.45pm Friday night.
Several exploded and burnt aerosol cans of the confiscated products marked “Beyond Oil Sheen Hair Spray and hair Conditioner” as well as some seized products housed within the burning building were seen littering the immediate vicinity of the incident.
At the time of this report, about 25 men comprising a combined team of fire fighters from the Federal Fire Service and the Lagos State Fire Services, were still battling to put out the fire.
Eyewitnesses said the incident caught those within the premises entirely by surprise and even initial attempts to put out he fire were futile until the arrival of the fire fighters.
In a chat, Assistant Controller, Operations FFS, Lagos command, Mr Ganiyu Olayiwola told Vanguard, “I was alerted at about 7.50pm last light and immediately mobilised my station. Three fire trucks were sent from Onikan, Ebutte Metta and Surulere stations. Our men arrived here promptly as soon as they got the alert but we encountered some challenges gaining entrance into the building.
“The gate was securely locked and no one had the key. It took a little while before we could break a hole in the wall behind the building and partially gain entry to douse the flames. It was when somebody came with the keys to the gate at about 10.00pm that we gained full entry.”
Further, Olayiwola who blamed the difficulty of totally extinguishing the fire on the nature of the materials housed within the building, said an excavator is needed to remove the burnt materials before access could be gained to the source of the fire below.
“The combustible nature of the materials is not helping matters. They are stacked together in heaps, and we cannot easily gain access to the root of the fire underneath.
“The solution is to look for an excavator to removed the top debris before the fire can be effectively tackled from underneath. We had a similar situation during the Dana Air crash and that was the strategy we utilised to extinguish the fire.
“All we are doing now is damping down, but from my experience, the permanent solution is what I have described. So it is when we remove the top debris within the warehouse that we can then fight the fire better.”
The fire office who said the actual cause of the fire was yet to be unravelled, however, said it could not be ruled out that it could be as a result of spontaneous ignition. He also said that over 30 water trucks have been expended so far, just as Vanguard reporter at the scene witnessed the arrival of 5 additional water trucks.
According to Olayiwola, “this is the dry season and spontaneous ignition could occur without a spark or naked flame causing it.”