Lagos fire officials were accused of arriving late.
A fire in a building in Ojota, Lagos, razed the entire studio of SuperSports and MNET, sports and entertainment channels respectively, on satellite pay TV, DSTV.
Witnesses say the fire began at the MNET studio, used for entertainment programmes like Naija Sings, Studio 57, Jara, as well as popular soap Tinsel’s prison set.
The exact cause of the fire, which began at about 3.30 p.m., is yet to be ascertained.
Felix Awogu, General Manager, Supersports, said that they were about to start the weekend’s live transmission when the fire began.
“It’s unfortunate, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Mr. Awogu said.
“It will affect production, we have to sit down restrategize,” he added.
Upcoming football matches would continue to be aired, but the live studio, which covers the rest of Africa, will be off, according to Mr. Awogu.
As the fire raged for hours, the Supersports crew and staff of other companies in the building watched helplessly.
About half a dozen water trucks were at the scene as the inferno raged. In addition to the studios, the store room, where equipment are kept, was razed.
Though the state’s fire service at Alausa is a few minutes’ drive away, some members of staff say their late arrival contributed to the massive damage by the inferno.
At a point, a staff engaged an official of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, who was at the scene, in a shouting match.
“If the fire people were here when they should have been here, it wouldn’t be like this,” said the staff.
“Nothing concerns building control agency here.”
Another staff said that the fire fighters arrived 30 minutes after they were informed.
“We were calling them (fire fighters), nobody came. The only one that came had no water in it,” she said.
“I was surprised. I was in Yaba when I called the first one, and we were getting to this place at the same time,” she added.
Abiodun Dickson, a director in one of the companies affected, said that “a few thousand jobs” would be lost.
“I was not here when the fire started. The fire people didn’t come in time, if they had a lot could have been saved. Even within an hour, they were not here,” said Mr. Dickson.
Rasaq Fadipe, Director of Lagos Fire Services, debunked claims that his men arrived late.
“The emergency call came in 15.00 hrs from the Lagos State Fire Service. Fortunately I was in the office; I quickly dispatched the fire vehicles in Alausa and Ikeja.”
Mr. Fadipe said that the massive smoke at the facility forced him to call up the fire trucks at Ilupeju and Isolo to complement the team.
The burnt building was formerly occupied by Philips, before DSTV took over.
Mr. Fadipe said that they were able to curtail the fire.
“We are not happy that this place happens to be engulfed when the fire service is nearby,” he said.
“Sincerely I will fault the organization. How can you have a big premises like this, a whole multinational company, and there’s no water hydrant. It’s given us bad image,” he added.