Fire, induced by illegally-refined fuel has razed down dozens of shops leading to the hospitalisation of three persons and the destruction of millions worth of goods in Warri.
Findings revealed that the fire broke out around 10:00p.m on Wednesday and raged till Thursday at the Miller Waterside near the old Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) yard in Warri South Local Government Area, Delta state.
The scene of the fire incident is a stone’s throw away from the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA), Warri naval base and the houseboat of Marine Police.
The inferno destroyed several shops and makeshift houses around the Warri Central Hospital, opposite the former Palnalpina company before firefighters were drafted to the scene to put it out.
Sources revealed that the fire was triggered by a gas cooker but was intensified by stored gallons of illegally-refined petrol and diesel.
A trader, one Ebi, who narrated the incident, said that they lost goods worth thousands of naira in the fire.
“We don’t really stay here but we have a shop which was razed to rumble.
“We were called around 10:00p.m in the night that the place is on fire so we rushed down but before we got here everywhere was filled with smoke with People running helter shelter trying to salvage their goods and wares but it was difficult.
“I learnt that in the course of this confusion and being that it was dead night, about three persons sustained injuries as they ran to evacuate some of their things”, he added.
He disclosed that the injured persons were immediately hospitalized after they were rescued.
Chairman of Warri South Council, Dr Michael Tidi, who was contacted on phone, confirmed the incident saying that firefighters were swiftly deployed to the scene but the fire was overwhelming and spread quickly because most of the houses around were built on planks.
He said that though information about the fire was still sketchy, community leaders in the area alleged that an occupant of one of the makeshift houses was cooking with a gas cooker from where the fire started and spread to other areas.
Tidi said that the council would work with the community leaders in the area to unravel the cause of the fire, saying he had already hinted to the state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and the commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Special Duties, Hon. Johnbull Edema.
“I have already escalated the incident to the appropriate authorities and by that, I mean His Excellency, The Governor as of last night (Wednesday).
“And of course today, I put a call through to the Honorable commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Special Duties, Hon. Johnbull Edema whose responsibility it is to reach out to the victims”.
He said that the local government council would work with the state government and the Bureau of Special Duties to cushion the effect of the losses suffered by the traders and residents.
The council boss confirmed that about three persons sustained various degrees of injuries from the fire while trying to evacuate their wares.
“No report of death and no part of NPA was gutted by the fire contrary to news being spread around. Don’t forget, most of the houses there are makeshifts and shops but some of the people actually sleep in their shops. Thank God no life was lost but people’s means of livelihood went down the drain.
“I must commend the efforts of the Delta State fire service. They responded swiftly to the call that I made and of course, the security agents were on the ground”.
He said that he cannot say if the activities of oil bunkers in that area inflamed the fire.
“W is yet to unravel the claims that activities of oil bunkers were responsible for inflaming the fire”, he said.