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    NTA station in Abakaliki gutted by fire

    BY PETER OKUTU
    ABAKALIKI- Mysterious fire yesterday gutted the Nigerian Television
    Authority, NTA, Abakaliki, destroying broadcast equipment and
    furniture worth millions of naira.

    Vanguard learnt that the fire which started from the studio section of
    the complex around 9pm while the station was on air, quickly spread to
    other sections and immediately yanked the station off air.

    Many residents who were viewing the station at the time it went off
    air later told our correspondent that they were alarmed over the
    manner the station went off air, stressing that they became suspicious
    that something was wrong.

    A distress call was reportedly put across to the Ebonyi State Fire
    Service office located about eight kilometers away but no sooner had
    they arrive with a fire truck, said to be half filled with water, than
    they ran out of water and had to run back to station to refill while
    the devastation by the raging inferno continued.

    On their arrival nearly 45 minutes later, the entire studio had been
    consumed just as it took the firemen another gruelling 30 minutes to
    quench the fire.

    Sources close to the station attributed the cause of the fire to
    electrical sparks in the studio. Equipment said to have been destroyed
    include: video cameras, three monitors, microphones, props,
    underground cables and studio lights.

    The fire incident attracted staff of the station including the General
    Manager, Mrs. Nkechi Odukwu who rushed back to office on getting wind
    of the development.

    But both the staff on duty and those that rushed to join them were
    helpless as every effort made to extinguish the fire before the
    intervention of the men of the fire service had little or no impact.

    Meanwhile, Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi state yesterday paid a
    sympathy visit to the television station in Abakaliki, describing the
    incident as unfortunate.

    At the time of this report, an unconfirmed report revealed that the
    NTA station in Abuja had directed the immediate arrest and detention
    of all the security men on duty when the fire incident occurred.  Ends


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