Akure — EIGHT persons,including a pregnant woman, were seriously injured while property worth millions of naira were razed in an inferno occasioned by a gas explosion in Akure, the Ondo State capital late on Saturday.
No fewer than 20 shops were burnt.
Also, 12 miscreants were said to have been arrested for allegedly looting shops while the fire raged.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State and the state’s Police Commissioner, Mr Isaac Eke, visited the scene yesterday and addressed the market women and shop owners affected by the fire.
National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, and the state police command said nobody died in the incident contrary to some newspaper reports, yesterday.
Vanguard gathered that the incident started around 6.30 p.m., on Saturday at a gas outlet located beside Saint Thomas’ Anglican Church, Arakale area of Akure metropolis.
An eyewitness said after the gas outlet was supplied with gas, his neighbours discovered that one of the cylinders was leaking.
The odour of the leaking gas, according to the eyewitness, became so much, prompting the owner of the outlet to be alerted.
Vanguard gathered that less than 10 minutes after the owner of the outlet was informed, the explosion occurred.
One of the cylinders reportedly burst and the explosion spread to other shops, razing them in quick successions.
It was gathered that immediately the explosion took place, owners of shops and people who came for shopping ran for safety, thinking it was bomb explosion.
It took several hours before men of the Federal Fire Service attached to Akure Airport could arrive the scene, by then property had been consumed.
Irate youths almost lynched the fire officers thinking that they were from the state fire service who failed to show up on time, despite repeated calls to them.
It was learned that sympathisers who trooped to the state fire service were told that they had no fuel in the fire truck and could not go for water.
It was gathered that despite the combined efforts of men of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Defence Corps and men of the 323 Artillery Brigade, some miscreants still looted wares from the burning shops.
Officials of NEMA, led by Mr Saheed Akiode, who is the Head of Operations for Ekiti State covering Ondo and Osun States, told newsmen that there was no casualty in the inferno.
He said those injured had been treated while those who were severely burnt were taken to hospital.