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 Fire guts Balogun Market, sawmill, houses in Lagos

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eddyvic
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PostSubject: Fire guts Balogun Market, sawmill, houses in Lagos   2015-01-13, 04:39

Tragedy struck in Lagos State on
Sunday and Monday as multiple fire
incidents occurred in different parts
of the state, taking a life and
destroying property.
The fire razed Balogun Market on
the Lagos Island, Oko Baba Sawmill
in Ebute Meta and four houses in
the Igando area of the state.
A pensioner, identified simply as
Baba Bende lost his life in the Ebute
Metta incident, while property
estimated at billions of naira was
destroyed in the incidents.
It was said the Oko Baba Sawmill
fire began around 9pm on Sunday
and was put off around 3am on
Monday.
An eyewitness, who pleaded
anonymity, explained that the
father of one died while trying to
save his pension files.
He said, “Baba Bende wanted to
take his pension files, and that was
how the fire engulfed him in the
house.”
PUNCH Metro observed that
shanties constructed around the
sawmill were razed to the ground.
In the Balogun Market, traders
watched in shock on Monday as
goods estimated at billions of naira
were lost after the fire ravaged five
buildings in the market.
The traders said the fire began
around 4am.
A banking hall belonging to
Diamond Bank was also affected by
the flames.
When PUNCH Metro visited the
scene on Monday, the fire was still
raging as rescue agencies from the
federal, state, local government
areas and others from corporate
organisations battled to put it out.
A woman, identified as Aunty Funmi
was in tears, while some traders
milled around her in sympathy.
One of those consoling her,
Abimbola Amos, said Funmi was
devastated because she lost goods
worth about N6m to the inferno.
She said, “I am also a trader in the
market. I sell Italian shoes and bags
and lost goods worth about N1.5m. I
didn’t get to know until after 7am.
“This has never happened to us in
Balogun Market. Everything we
have is gone. Some of us are
widows.”
Yetunde Fakodunjo, mother of four
and trader in the market, said her
sister informed her of the fire after
she finished observing her morning
prayer.
She said, “I couldn’t believe it and
had to call another friend who
confirmed it, saying our plaza was
on fire.
“Everything was burnt. I could not
pick a pin. I cannot estimate what I
lost to this fire. It is in millions.”
A trader, Mrs. Bukola Akinrogunde,
explained to our correspondent
that the affected buildings were
shops and warehouses.
Akinrogun criticised the Lagos State
Fire Service, saying it concentrated
its operation on Diamond Bank and
left other buildings to burn.
“They could have put off the fire on
time, but they focused on the bank.
I commend them for their effort,
but it was not enough. The fire
service allowed our shops and
warehouses to burn.”
Another trader, Cy Ezefuna, who
said he lost goods valued at N200m,
blamed the Lagos Island Local
Government Area for blocking the
exit roads with shops which
delayed the response of the fire
service.
He said, “I blame the local
government because it blocked
everywhere with makeshift
structures. When the fire
servicemen were on their way
here, they did could not access
here on time.
“The government is greedy and
collects N200, 000 from these shops
yearly. We had to demolish some of
them before the fire service could
get in.”
He said the fire started after a
transformer around the building
sparked and caught fire.
A former Chairman of the
Community Development Area,
Jamiu Ekemode, while also blaming
the government, said he had
predicted the disaster, but nobody
heeded his warnings.
“This fire started from a small place,
but because help couldn’t come on
time, it escalated. The LGA is to
blame because it gave approval for
this nonsense,” he said.
Our correspondent observed at the
scene officials of the Lagos State
Fire Service, National Emergency
Management Agency, Nigeria Civil
Defence Corps, Red Cross Society,
Lagos State Emergency
Management Agency, Lagos State
Building Control Agency, the
Nigeria Police Force, fire trucks
from the United Bank for Africa Plc
and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.
The Director of the Lagos State Fire
Service, Mr. Rasak Fadipe, said nine
fire trucks belonging to the agency
had gone for refill three times each
as of 2pm.
He said, “We got the alert around
6am.
“On arrival, the men discovered
that they could not cope with the
fire and we had to dispatch another
seven fire trucks from other fire
stations. When the firefighters
arrived, three buildings were on
fire, and the fourth had just caught
fire.”
On the allegation that the fire
service concentrated effort on
Diamond Bank, he said the agency
fought hard so that the fire would
not extend to the building, adding
that it was not partial in its
operation.
The South West Coordinator, NEMA,
Dr. Abdullahi Bamidele, said there
had not been any injury or loss of
lives.
“LASEMA bulldozers are at work to
remove the rubbles so we can
move in and reassess the
situation,” he added.
The General Manager of LASEMA, Mr.
Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, told our
correspondent that the agency was
still studying the building to know
if it would be demolished or not.
The General Manager of LASBCA, Mrs.
Abimbola Animashaun, said the fire
had weakened the structures,
which had made a demolition
inevitable.
The Iyaloja General, Mrs. Folashade
Tinubu-Ojo, promised to speak with
the government to get help for the
traders who lost their wares in the
incident.
She said, “I sympathise with
everyone affected by the fire and I
advise you to calm down while we
speak with the government to get
assistance.”
The Branch Manager of Diamond
Bank in the area, Feyisayo Adeniyi,
said the bank could not state the
extent of damage immediately.
In another development, four
buildings have been gutted by fire
in the Igando area of the state.
The fire, which started around 4pm
on Sunday, was said to have raged
on till Monday morning.
LASEMA boss, while confirming the
incident, said, “The inferno razed
down four bungalows on Raimi
Ajibowu Street, which is at the back
of the Igando General Hospital.
“The fire is still ongoing due to
inflammable materials such as tyres
dumped at the site.”
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