LAGOS—Six building, housing over 100 shops, at Balogun Market, Lagos Island, and four residential buildings in Igando area of the state, went up in flames in the early hours of yesterday, destroying goods and property worth millions of naira.
The fire at Balogun Market was suspected to have been caused by power surge. It was said to have started in one of the shops at 4a.m. The affected buildings are three three-storey buildings, two five-storey buildings and a four-storey building.
Though no life was lost, Vanguard gathered that about seven private guards sustained minor injuries in the ensuing stampede.
The fire, which reportedly started from one of the five-storey buildings, spread to five others before help could come.
The raging fire was said to have been fuelled by some of wares, such as clothes, electronics, rubber and shoes stored in the buildings, which also served as warehouses.
At 2p.m., fire fighters were still battling to contain the situation. At a point, an exhausted fire service official was seen shouting desperately on the phone, calling for support from private firms.
One of the private firms that arrived the scenes was Julius Berger Construction Company and other banks in the area. The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA; Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA; the Police; Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NCSDC; Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA; Nigeria Red Cross Society and Lagos Island Community leaders also assisted in fighting the inferno.
Over 15 tankers were brought to the scene.
The fire at Igando, said to have rendered about 20 families homeless, was said to have started from a dump site behind Igando General Hospital on Sunday, before spreading to residential buildings.
The Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Rasaq Fadipe, said fire trucks from Sari Iganmu, Isolo, Ilupeju and Alausa, were on ground to salvage the situation. The incident, according to him, was the 15th distress call attended to between Sunday and yesterday.
While fire fighters were battling to contain the situation at Balogun Market, affected traders were wailing. One of the pitiable sights was that of a man, who said that a container of shoes worth over N35 million, was only offloaded on Saturday.
The trader, Mr. Ogbonna, was seen rolling on the ground, saying part of the money was borrowed.
Another woman, Mrs Gbadamosi, an attendant in one of the shops, said that her employer had goods worth N27 billion in his containers.
She said: “We have not finished offloading the goods from the containers. We left on Sunday with the hope of continuing this morning (yesterday). I arrived here at 5a.m., only to meet the whole place on fire.
“We tried all we could to salvage some of the goods in the containers, but there were only few hands. Even when we managed to take them somewhere else, the fire spread there and destroyed them.”
Some of the affected traders only just returned from their respective home towns, where they spent the Christmas and New Year break, only to be faced with the disaster.
Some of them had over two shops in the affected buildings.
Hoodlums were said to have taken advantage of the situation, as some of the goods they pretended to be taking to safety were discovered missing.
At press time, the area had reportedly been cordoned off.