…residents debate cause, as one dies, many injured, 42 shops burnt
Ajegunle, a community on the outskirts of Lagos was thrown into mourning in the early hours of yesterday when a tanker carrying 45,000 litres of premium motor spirit (PMS) fell along the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
It was gathered that when it fell close to the buffer zone, the content flowed into the drainage towards the boundary of the Lagos and Ogun states. Baba Tukur, a gateman with Modus Motors, and an eyewitness told Saturday Sun: “The fuel was smelling. I was watching to make sure that people don’t come outside or use fire. I was with lighter but I threw it away. When I saw that some people where flashing torch from far away. I was trying to get close to them when I heard a loud sound from behind me. But the fire came from front. I was confused. I stood to think. But that was when I got caught in the fire,”
Tukur who had bandages on his hand and patches on his face including his mouth, had a stick of lit cigarette which he struggled to inhale, revealed that six of his friends are currently in the hospital taking treatment. “They were not as lucky as I am because they were sleeping and I was awake. I didn’t bother to wake them up because the content was pouring inside gutter and I thought it was safe then.”
Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, Zonal Coordinator, South-West, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed the story adding that one person, Oluwatobi Lawal, was killed in the fire incident.
He said while giving an update: “The incident started at about 2:06 this morning, around Ajegunle Bus Stop. The spilt content continued to flow down up to Toll Gate. Lagos State Fire Service handled it from the Lagos end while Ogun State Fire Service did from their own end. Unfortunately, a male adult casualty was recovered. The buffer zone between the road and residential houses saved the residential houses from being affected. The teenager affected was preparing to write JAMB/UTME and WAEC exams next month.
“About 42 makeshift shops were consumed in the inferno, However, some of the injured victims were taken to a nearby hospital, and Ota General Hospital, while the corpse had been deposited at Ifo General Hospital in Ogun State.”
Mohamadu Sodiq, a middle age shop owner, recounted his order. According to him, he was sleeping inside the shop when the fire started. His shop was partially burnt. The colour of the container shop was red but the heavy smoke coming from the fire turned it into black. He spoke as sympathizers continued to mill around him around him and Tukur. You could see that they were sad that they were injured but glad that they came out of it alive.
Pointing to Tukur, he said: “It was Baba that came to wake me up with injuries all over his body. He smelt like meat. I even asked if he wanted to eat fasting food at this time of the day. Baba saved most of us. Right now, I have lost all I have.”
But when compared with Emmanuel Michael, a phone merchant and repairer who lost all his wares to the inferno, Sodiq is probably better off. According to him, he had about 15 laptops for sale and uncountable phones.
He shared the sad story of his losses with Saturday Sun: “I had just taken delivery of 12 I-Phones and the lowest of them was I-Phone X. Where should I start?”, he asked agitatedly. “When I heard that the fire was at Sango, I didn’t know that it would get to us. It is a sad thing,” he stated. Asked to estimate his loss, he claimed that his goods are worth about N30m.
Another person who lost all was Miracle Aleriwa, a disc jockey. He was surrounded by most of the youths in the area. But a little drama took place when the distraught youth sighted a car passing on the other side of the lane. They quickly rushed at the car which was having on it a flag of the running party, armed with sand and burnt materials. Sensing danger, the driver quickly sped away.
Aleriwa told his heart-rending story thus: “I have about N45m worth of equipment. Ordinary hand-beat is about N2m not to talk about mixer and others. I have about six controllers and speakers each.” Another victim, Sunday, said to be a moneylender was seen being revived by some sympathizers. But he could hardly bring himself to stand up. Narrating Sunday’s ordeal, Adura said that his shop was completely razed.
He also narrated how Lawal, a teenager, was killed. “He was selling wares for his mother till around 12am before he begged to have some sleep. It was not long after he went to sleep that the fire started. His mother woke him up to help her pack her wares but the boy, still struggling with sleep, jumped into the fire.”
The chairman of Ojokoro Local Community Development Area, Hammed Idowu Tijani, who visited the scene, promised to bring succour to the victims. The second phase of the fire was said to have started when the emergency team tried to lift the detached trunk with its content pouring out. It was while people rushed to scoop its content that something ignited the volatile fuel and the truck got razed for the second time.
Different and contradictory accounts exist as to the cause of the first and second phases of the fire outbreak. While Aleriwa claimed that the network station at Sango-Ota sparked the fire, Adura said it was a woman who had innocently woken up to start preparing her fasting breakfast that started the fire. – The Sun.
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