Fire fighters blame “idle” crowd for slow response to Lagos explosion


the fire fighter struggled to contain the fire in Lagos.

For more than eight hours, fire fighters from the Lagos State Fire Service struggled to contain the inferno that spread across smoky buildings in Jankara, a market neighbourhood in Lagos Island.

Though the cause of the fire remains unknown, stored fire crackers inside locked up stalls triggered explosions that left about 10 houses – mostly three storey buildings – severely shattered and burnt.

One person was confirmed dead while 40 other sustained minor injuries, according to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

The agency added that five of the 40 injured, who were aged people, were taken to the hospital, treated and discharged; while the dead body was taken to the Lagos Island General Hospital.

Crowd control

The explosion also ripped off the windows and ceiling boards from a school 50 metres away.

Police cordoned off the more severely affected areas but crowd control continued to be a huge challenge.

“From what you can see, we’ve not been playing. We have actually been fighting the fire,” said Lawrence Sanwo, Fire Prevention Officer, Lagos State Fire Service.

“The challenge we have is controlling the crowd, allowing the fire service men to come and do the job.

“This crowd you are seeing, they are not here to fight the fire, they are just here to see,” Mr. Sanwo added.

As the fire, which started at about 9 a.m. raged into the afternoon, hundreds of onlookers continued to press towards the scene. The fire fighters were still battling the fire at about 5:30 p.m.

Periodic bangs from fireworks in the burning buildings were heard as some residents tried to assist in dousing the fire with bowls and buckets.

Tens of traders whose shops had been untouched by the fire tried to salvage their goods, sometimes getting in the way of the fire fighters.

A hoodlum, attempting to cart away an electric voltage stabilizer, was nabbed by army officers.

‘Closely-knit buildings’

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, said that they were able to curtail the spread of the fire as well as rumours.

“We are able to disseminate information to people in the state that it is neither a bomb blast nor a plane crash,” said Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, LASEMA’s Chief Executive Officer.

“That there are some people that are stupid to store the firework despite the ban on the fireworks in this festival,” Mr. Oke-Osanyintolu added.

The burning buildings, most of them within touching distance of one another, slowed down fire fighting activities.

“The Lagos State government ought to have enforced certain rules. Federal government cannot come from federal level and force state or local government to do things,” said Ibrahim

Farinloye, South-West spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.

“House are supposed to be six metres apart from each other. They shouldn’t mind whoever is going to be affected now.

“If they had done the right thing, this thing might not get to this level. These are standard town planning rules,” said Mr. Farinloye.

  • Rotimi Akinola

    Rivers State fire truck picture accompanying the story of a fire in Lagos? Really?

    • Olode Okuta

      erm…Rivers State are to blame