By Cletus Ikogor
LAGOS — A woman, her three children and a neighbour were at the early hours of Wednesday, burnt to death at Shagari Estate, Musan, in Musan-Okunola Local Council Development Area, LCDA, of Lagos State.
The fire, as gathered, started at about 1.15 am in a three-bedroom flat located on 9, CH street.
Eye witnesses said one of the victims identified simply as Aunty Philo, alerted neighbours with the shout of fire.
But before sympathizers could rush to the flat, the fire had reportedly spread to the entire building, in the process of which the roof fell on Philo, burning her beyond recognition.
Efforts by youths in the area to safe the situation failed.
An eye witness who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vanguard: “We saw Aunty Philo trying to force the burglary proof open but she could not. At that time, we tried to break the wall to rescue her when all of a sudden the roof fell on her.
“When we eventually succeeded in pulling down the burglary proof, we saw roasted members of the family on the floor. We could not do anything again but had to leave because of thick smoke.”
Identities of the victims were given as Mrs Anwuzia, said to be in her fifties, Ekene (16), Emeka (7) and Nwike (30). The mother of three whose husband was said to be away, reportedly returned from a church programme in Ghana the previous day.
Her husband, a Pastor, was said to have travelled to Aba, Abia State for an undisclosed assignment.
Fire service men were said to have arrived the scene later and succeeded in putting out the fire, but the harm had been done.
Contacted, Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Mr Rasaq Fadipe, confirmed the death of five persons, saying that news of the incident was received at about 1.39 am
He said: “We had to mobilise a truck of 10,000 water capacity from Ikotun to the scene. On reaching there the fire was still on. Because of the magnitude, we had to mobilise another truck from Agege with another 10,000 litres to compliment the first one, before the fire was contained.
“Unfortunately, we saw the charred remains of the victims. We saw four of them and later discovered the fifth one. We handed the corpses to policemen who also arrived the scene.”
Fadipe said the family of four could have been suffocated by smoke from the inferno which prevented them from escaping from the flat before they were burnt.
The inferno, according to him, was also suspected to have been caused by candle, noting: “When we got there, there was no light, which ruled out the possibility of it being cause by electrical fault. We suspect it could have been caused by candle.”