BY BOSE ADELAJA & MONSURU OLOWOOPEJO
AT the popular Mobil Petrol Station on Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, five vehicles that were on a queue and another truck that brought in fresh supply of fuel were, yesterday, consumed in a fire incident in which one person was critically injured.
According to eyewitnesses account, the inferno started at 6.05am when the driver of a tanker laden with 42,000 litres of petrol was trying to enter the fuel station. The truck could not go in due to a long queue of buyers waiting to re-fuel.
A metal was said to have punctured the tanker, which spilled its content leading to an explosion that completely consumed two cars, two buses and one Sports Utility Vehicle, SUV. Electrical installations of Ikeja Distribution Company, IKEDC, and the gate of the Guinness Nigeria Plc headquarters, located beside the filling station were also affected.
An eyewitness said a bystander sustained bruises when an electrical pole fell on his back some meters away from the scene.
According to another eyewitness, Mr. Surajudeen Oladele, “there was heavy traffic at the Mobil junction because vehicles were in a long queue waiting to buy fuel.
“While trying to negotiate the bend into the filling station, the tank hit the culvert at the entrance and the fuel began to spill. The fire started few seconds later, after a loud bang.”
‘My business is gone’
Mr. Lawal Babatunde, owner of one of the burnt vehicles, said: “This is my business and all I have as a businessman is gone. I have been using the vehicle as a means of livelihood for three years now.
“I was on my way to execute a contract at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, NIJ, Ogba, Ikeja, when the incident occurred.
“While I was trying to find my way, a commercial motorcycle operator passed beside my car and alerted me of fuel spill.
“Few seconds later, all I heard was a loud bang and the tanker went up in flames. It spread to where my car was parked. All the cars involved were in traffic.”
Mr. Segun Oyegbami, the dealer managing the filling station told Vanguard that the quantity of petrol in the tanker was 42,000 litres and it was trying to discharge the content before the fire started, adding “I don’t know the cause of the fire yet.”
Oyegbami noted that the fire affected the station’s canopy and the electricity installation in the community, saying “at the moment, the community has been thrown into darkness.”
The General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu who was represented by the Head of Operations, Mr. Olusegun Magnus-Davies said that the state emergency team was alerted of the disaster at 6:10 pm, adding “we immediately activated the emergency response team.”
He said they worked effectively to ensure that the fire did not spread.
He, however, said the agency would embark on comprehensive investigation to unravel the cause of the fire.
According to him, “this is because we are not seeing this as a spillage but as an accident and we do not blame anyone for this at this time. It is not until the investigation is completed, that we can say this is what happened.”