BY TONY EDIKE
ENUGU – THE multi-million naira Enugu timber market was again gutted by a mysterious fire Sunday night destroying property worth over N50 million.
Among items destroyed in the inferno were wood working machines, power generators, doors and timbers. The incident came barely three months after a similar inferno in December last year engulfed the market and reduced timbers and woodwork machines worth over N300 million in about 100 shops to rubble.
Although the cause of the inferno which was said to have commenced at about 10.30pm Sunday night could not be ascertained by press time yesterday, some of the affected traders who suffered huge losses blamed it on the recurring “occultic manipulations” by some of their colleagues in the market.
Vanguard learnt that men of Enugu State Fire Service were alerted when the inferno was noticed but before they could arrive the scene, shops in the affected line had been burnt beyond redemption.
An eyewitness, however, said but for the effort of the fire service men, the entire market would have been gutted because of the intensity of the raging fire.
The state government had stationed a fire fighting machine in the market to checkmate fire outbreak, but the officials could not respond to the incident as the equipment was said to be faulty.
One of the timber dealers who claimed to have lost property worth millions of naira, Mr. Hyginus Onyia attributed the incessant fire disasters to the porous security in the market, saying if the market was properly fenced it would have helped in preventing such disasters.
Speaking on the fire disaster when contacted yesterday, the chairman of Enugu Timber Market, Chief Livi Obi expressed shock over the mysterious fire, saying he was yet to ascertain the cause of the inferno.
“The fire service men tried their best to put out the fire when they responded to distress calls. I was shocked when I heard that the market was burnt. I don’t know if it is man made or not, I don’t know the cause but we will try to investigate it,” he said.
Chairman of Enugu South Local Government Area, Mr. Nwabueze Okafor, in whose domain the market is located, promised to set up a commission of inquiry to find out the cause of fire disasters in the market.
He expressed surprise that fire disasters had continued to occur in the market despite the setting up of fire service office in the market as well as procurement of modern fire fighting truck by the government.