By Peter Duru, Makurdi
Over 700 shops and goods worth hundreds of millions of Naira were later Tuesday night razed in a strange inferno that gutted sections of the Katsina-Ala township market in Katsina-Ala Local of Benue state.
Vanguard gathered from source in the area that the fire which started at about 8:30 when majority of the traders had closed for the day, may have been ignited by a surge in power supply to the market.
He said, “we only saw smoke billowing from a section of the market and before anyone could do anything the fire was on and spread very fast to several shops. We suspect that it must have been started by a power surge.
“Unfortunately there is no functional fire service station in Katsina-Ala but the people mobilized and fought the fire and stopped it from consuming the entire market and causing more damage.”
When contacted, the Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, LGA, Mr. Alfred Atera who confirmed the disaster said he rushed to the scene when the news of the fire outbreak got to him.
The Chairman said: “The fire started about 8:30pm and
hundreds of millions of Naira worth of goods were destroyed in the disaster.
“The sections badly affected were the Hausa line, Lagos street and Igbo line. The Hausas sell edibles including grains while the Igbo’s are selling cosmetics, clothings and wears, electronics and other items in the market.”
While lamenting the level of destruction in the market, the Chairman appealed to relevant government agencies to intervene “because people’s investments and life savings have all gone.
“Most of the victims are currently trapped financially and some are in the hospital as a result of the disaster and also in need of help. So we appeal to government to intervene to alleviate the suffering of the people.”
The Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent, SP, Catherine Anene who confirmed the incident said investigation into the disaster was ongoing.