*No office, personnel affected — MINISTER
*Ministry’s fire extinguishers expired—WORKERS
By Laide Akinboade
ABUJA — There was confusion, yesterday, as fire engulfed the 6th, 7th and 8th floors of the Ministry of Education building at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja.
Nobody could say how the fire, which saw workers and visitors scampering for safety, started. Fire fighters arrived the scene on time and it was learned that no one was hurt.
Some workers at the complex said fire equipment at the building were not functional, adding that this affected efforts to extinguish the fire earlier.
One of the staff said: “All the fire extinguishers in the building, which could have been used to extinguish the fire at the early stage, have expired. They did not work.”
Meanwhile, a statement by Mr. Peter Osamgbi, Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of State for Education, Professor Viola Onwuliri, said the fire had been contained by the combined efforts of officers and men of Nigeria Fire service and the Nigerian Police.
It said: “It is important to note that no personnel and offices were affected in the incident.”
Speaking to newsmen, Professor Onwuliri thanked the officers for their prompt response and also thanked God that there was no loss of life.
She also appreciated the staff of the ministry for their orderliness during the evacuation.
Onwuliri told journalists that the prompt intervention of the fire service prevented the inferno from doing further damage.
She s said: “You can see how many trucks they came along with and they have assured me that they would find the point where the fire started from.
“But the most important thing is that nobody was hurt and the fire service people are still working.”
On when the fire started, she said: “Well, I won’t be able to tell you when the fire started because I did not check.
“I just know it has something to do with some panel. The Fire Chief has assured me that they will ensure it does not affect other parts of the complex. The offices are all intact, everybody is safe. Everybody ran out.”
She, however, said there was no difficulty accessing the floors by firemen.
The Public Relations Officer, Federal Fire Service, Mr. Elechi Collins, said the fire started around 1.35p.m.
He said nobody can say what caused the fire and the extent of damage done yet.