By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Minsur Olowoopejo
LAGOS — Apprehension has gripped traders of Owode-Onirin market, along Mile 12 Ikorodu Road, Lagos, after 11 persons, including a pregnant woman, fainted after inhaling suspected poisonous fumes from substance that exploded at a section of the area, late Wednesday.
Vanguard gathered that one Emily Patrick, owner of a plot of land beside the iron rod market, had set refuse and other inflammable materials cleared from her plot of land on fire oblivious of the inherent danger.
At press time, it was gathered that two of the victims were still under intensive care at Burns and Trauma Centre, Gbagada General Hospital.
Others were, however, rushed to the Accident and Trauma Centre, Toll Gate axis by the state Ambulance Service, LASAMBUS.
Sources said few metres from Emily plot of land, was a dumpsite filled with fibre materials and other used industrial equipment.
It was learned that the weather condition further escalated the fire which spread to where the fibre materials and other used industrial equipment were dumped.
Effort by Emily and his husband to put out the fire proved abortive. Few minutes after it spread to the dumpsite, the industrial equipment exploded. The explosion caused pandemonium in the market, forcing many to scamper for safety.
A trader, who identified himself as Olowo, said the victims collapsed after inhaling the unidentified poisonous fumes from the industrial equipment on the dumpsite.
Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Rasaq Fadipe, and General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Mr. Michael Akindele, confirmed the incident.
Fadipe, while reacting to the explosion, said 11 persons were affected by the toxic fumes.
He, however, did not disclosed if any of the firemen deployed to the scene were hospitalized.
According to him, “Seven out of the cylinders exploded and unleashed havoc on the residents. We attacked the fire professionally, bearing in mind that the area is surrounded by iron scrap markets and residential area and if not quickly quenched could lead to disaster.”
“Firemen that responded to the distress call upon reaching the scene after inhaling the poisonous gas also felt unconscious. Quite a number of passersby were also affected,” Fadipe said.
On his part, Akindele said: “We gathered that the gas emission was caused as a result of a burning bush around the area which later spread into the inner part of the market. In the process, the fire spread into an area where there were combustible materials.
Chief Scientific Officer, Mrs. Moji Adepega, who led the LASEPA team with the use of a Testo 350 gas analyser, to determine the cause of the odour, expressed the dangers inherent in people inhaling the content as harmful to the health of people. According to her, the acidic odour could be suspected to be ammonia gas.
“Consequently, those who inhaled it felt unconscious. The rescue team later rushed the victims to the hospitals while the fire was later put out. As I speak, the victims are responding to treatment. We thank God that no life was lost in the process.”
When Vanguard visited the scene yesterday, Chairman of Owode-Onirin market, Alhaji Wahab Adeoti, lamented that the incident affected the business activities in the market, saying “it is pathetic.”
According to him: “We have instructed our traders not to burn their refuse. Rather, they should put it in bags and wait for the Private Sector Participation, PSP, operators to cart away their refuse. They have abided by this. In fact, the dumpsite has been abandoned for several months. We don’t dump our refuse there.