An inferno on Wednesday night razed down a filling station, 15 vehicles and some nearby buildings along the Upper New Market Road, Onitsha, Anambra State, destroying property worth millions of naira.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, ASP Nkeiruka Nwode, and Dr Paul Odenigbo, the director of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), confirmed the incident to newsmen in Onitsha, Anambra yesterday.
Nwode said three suspected hoodlums were arrested on Wednesday night during the operation to extinguish the fire. “We only have five houses burnt; we have 15 vehicles burnt and five tricycles and I want to thank God that no life was lost. Some people were injured and taken to the hospital as at the time we came here last night.”
Nwode said some shanty houses around fuelled the fire and advised people to desist from engaging in activities that may heighten disasters. “I really want to advise the public that they should help the government to help them. Some of these shanty houses around and attachments ignited the fire,” she said.
On his part, Odenigbo said the fire service responded promptly, adding that fire-fighters were called in from Asaba to assist those from Onitsha and Okpoko when they exhausted their water.
“The incident happened around 8p.m. when the tanker coming from Awka Road, Onitsha, was negotiating the DMGS Roundabout, lost control and rammed into the Mobil Filling Station.
“One of the fuel dispensers later caught fire, which spread down the road, destroying vehicles and buildings,” he said.
According to him, 13 houses, 15 vehicles, three tricycles and three filling stations, Mobil, MRS and Total, were affected. Meanwhile, an eyewitness told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the fire started when an articulated vehicle laden with fuel, fell into Mobil filling station by DMGS Roundabout.
The eyewitness said that fuel from the tanker flowed down the road through the drain, spreading the fire. The source added that the inferno affected parts of a popular building known as `Kamo Plaza’, where two banks have their offices, but caused minimal damages.
Mrs. Chinelo Onyeuna, a victim and manager of Bencash Investment Nig. Ltd., a company that deals in electronics and furniture, said she lost goods worth N100 million to the fire.
“We had so many goods worth over N100 million. Just look at our plaza, it has been burnt down completely. What I am saying is that government should stop all these people operating filling stations near residential buildings,” Onyeuna said, while appealing for government assistance.
Another victim, Mrs. Juana Oboli, from Onitsha, said she lost her residential building, which she had laboured for 12 years to build. Oboli, an employee of the Nigerian Prison Service, Awka, who disclosed that she is a widow, urged the state government to help her recover from her loss.
“I struggled for more than 12 years to complete the house after I lost my husband. I want government to intervene because I don’t have anybody else to help me,” Oboli appealed.