The victims of the Lagos fire lament their losses.
The Lagos State Government is carrying out investigations to ascertain the actual cause of the fire at the Ifelodun Plank Market in Demurin, Ketu, Lagos on Thursday, the Commissioner for Special Duties, Wale Ahmed, said on Friday.
Mr. Ahmed said at the market that firefighters responded promptly to the incident and were able to prevent the fire from spreading to adjoining buildings.
“But we are still in the immediate phase, where we try to ensure that there is no secondary damage to lives and property in the area,” he said.
The commissioner added that rescue efforts were on to cordon off the area and to prevent people from coming too close to the market.
AbdulRofeeu Babajide, the President of the Plank and Building Materials Association, said that there were many speculations as to the cause of the fire.
“I can’t speak on speculations. I cannot say much on what has happened now until I meet with the executive members of the state chapter of our association,’’ he said.
Aliu Bello, Chairman of Plank Sellers at the market, also told said that the cause of the fire had yet to be ascertained.
He, however, said that it was being widely speculated that the fire may have started from sparks from an electrical surge in the public power supply at the market.
“Most of us had earlier left the market at about 8 p.m. but around 9 p.m., I was called at home and told that fire had gutted the entire market,” he said.
“And by the time I arrived here, men of the fire services were all around, trying to contain the fire, but it appeared to be beyond their control.
“No life was lost in the incident, but some of the firefighters were injured and are presently undergoing treatment,’’ Mr. Bello added.
He said about 500 shops were razed in the fire.
Eyewitnesses, however, commended the efforts of the emergency agencies for taking prompt measures to contain the fire.
Some of the victims had yet to come to terms with the tragedy as they wept helplessly, lamenting their losses.
Fakeye Bukola, a victim, said he lost over N1.5 million worth of planks and building materials to the fire.
“I borrowed money from the bank to buy the goods. Just how do I pay back the loan? Where do I start from?’’ he lamented.
Another victim, Bisola Yusuf, told NAN that she lost all her goods to the fire.
“I was unable to retrieve anything from my shop. I plead with the Lagos State Government to come to our aid and assist us to get back to business,” she said.
Kafayat Khalid, also a victim, said she lost goods worth N2 million. She said she was yet to recover from a previous fire incident at the market in 2010.
The Information Officer (South-West Zone) of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, said that officials of the agency were immediately deployed to the site on Thursday, to contain the fire.
Mr. Farinloye, however, advised Nigerians to be cautious in the handling fire incidents, saying that most of the rescue activities should be left to the firefighters.
Agencies present at the market included NEMA, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the Lagos State Fire Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.