Although we are now homeless, we still thank God for sparing our lives in 2013 because only the living have hope’’. These were the words of one of the occupants of Nos 34, 35 and 36, Obiora Street, located near Baruwa Bus Stop in Itire-Ijesha, a densely populated area of Lagos State. Their houses were gutted by fire on Monday, December 30, 2013. The victims of the disaster are now taking refuge with neighbours and relations.
Trouble started around 1pm that fateful Monday when a spark of fire was first at House 34. On noticing the fire, the tenants were said to have raised an alarm which attracted neighbours and sympaAhisers. But their efforts to put off the raging fire failed to yield positive results.
The fire which spread like harmattan wind lasted for about two hours and destroyed property estimated at several million of Naira. Although no life was lost in the disaster, one person was said to be have been seriously injured.
An occupant of one of the razed buildings, Baala Musa told Vanguard Metro, VM that the fire fighters were not contacted on time apparently due to an alleged poor service by the GSM operators. The inability of the fire fighters to arrive on time led to the spread of the fire to nearby buildings.
The residents, VM gathered, succeeded in reaching the National Emergency Management Authority, NEMA which immediately contacted both the State and Federal Fire Services. Their arrival helped to put off the fire which was spreading to other buildings in the neighbourhood.
One of the victims who did not want her names in print, said the fire was caused by the carelessness of one of the occupants. Another resident of the razed buildings, Mr. Akeem Adesola told VM that the fire was aided by the harmattan. This allegation was deflated by the South West Information Officer of NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye.
According to Farinloye, the fire was caused by an electrical spark. He advised Nigerians to look out for electrical surges especially during this festive season. One of the victims who pleaded anonymity, said he was caught off guard by the inferno.
‘’We were to travel on that day but the journey was aborted due to lack of funds. I went to my shop to see if I can raise some money when a neighbour rushed in, shouting for help.
I quickly followed him, not knowing that danger was looming. Before I arrived the scene, the fire had escalated and consumed all my belongings. As I am talking to you now, I am helpless and almost naked. But I thank God for sparing my life,’’ she muttered.
Madam Sade Olalere who was also affected by the fire disaster, said the incident has succeeded in separating her from other members of her family. ‘’The fire was first noticed at No 34. That prompted the occupants to raise an alarm. We all rushed to the scene but as we battled to bring the situation under control, the fire spread to our apartment. Most of my property were consumed before I got there.
As I am talking to you, all my credentials have been lost to the inferno. But once there is life, there is hope, ‘’ she managed to say.
An eye witness told VM that fire fighters and emergency agencies were not contacted until the fire had spread uncontrollably to nearby houses. One of those who battled to bring the fire under control was badly injured in the process.