By Emma Amaize and Akpokona Omafuaire, Warri
CALAMITY struck,Thursday night, in Udu Council Area of Delta State as fire razed the popular Udu Harbour market, destroying goods estimated at millions of naira.
Reports said that hoodlums, otherwise known as ‘Area boys’, who pretended to be on rescue mission had a field day during the incident as they looted items belonging to affected traders, .
A similar fire had gutted the Harbour market, December 31, 2009, and goods worth several millions naira were lost.
The fire, which started at about 8pm was alleged to be mistakenly caused by a woman, simply identified Mama Pukeke, a resident, whose cooking oil caught fire, but others claimed it was caused by a man, who lit candle and went away, only for the candle to fall and ignite fire in a nearby drums of diesel.
An eye witness said the fire raged uncontrollably because of the bottles of alcohol, combustible chemicals in some of the stalls and inflammable woods used in building the stores.
When Saturday Vanguard visited the scene, the victims were seen wailing. Chairman of the market union, Mr. Freedom Odiete said, “At about 8pm, fire started from the Chemical line after a woman’s cooking oil caught fire. We called fire fighters as we made efforts to put off the fire but the chemicals and alcohol started to explode. By the time fire fighters came, the fire had gone wild”.
“There was a similar fire in 2009 but it was not like this, the loss is unquantifiable, I am short of words, we call on well meaning Nigerians to come to our aid, I don’t know what to say now but I urged the stores owners who have lost their life savings to take heart and cheer up.”
Seventy-year-old store owner, Madam Ovwianrhirere Ibeke narrated her ordeal, “I was in my shop when I saw the fire, I rushed with my children to help quench the fire, when I saw that the fire was spreading fast, I rushed back to see if I can save some things.
“I was too confused that I don’t know what to pick, my other store where I keep palm oil was thoroughly razed. I had planned to retire in five years but now I lost everything.
“I don’t know how to start now, I am old now, my son sustained an injury when he was hit by a drum.”
N25m equipment lost as fire razes Anambra College
BY VINCENT UJUMADU, Awka
THE people of Ezinifite in Nnewi South local government area of Anambra State are bemoaning what would be the fate of their children on resumption of schools after the Christmas break as property estimated at N25 million at the Community High School in the area has been destroyed by fire.
Mostly affected was the large building housing the science laboratories, introductory technology workshop and the school library. The College was in 1979 rated the school with the best laboratory in the state.An eye witness said the fire started at about 3 pm when there was nobody in the school and all efforts by the villagers to put out the fire proved abortive because of the raging harmatan wind.