The fire raged for about three hours before it was put off by fire fighters
Nine people were roasted to dead, Tuesday night, after a petrol-laden tanker somersaulted at Cement bus stop, near Oshodi-Apapa expressway, Lagos.
About 54 lock-up stalls situated in four buildings, including a Sterling bank branch, and property worth millions of naira, were also razed by the inferno which raged for about three hours before it was put off by fire fighters.
Eye witnesses, who stated that the accident was caused after the tanker suffered a brake failure, insisted that the death toll was higher than the figure given by state authorities.
Rasak Fadipe, Director of Lagos State Fire Services, said that they got a distress call at 10.43 p.m.
“And when the call came in, thank God I was aware of the type of incident we are going to face, I quickly deployed three fire trucks from Sari Iganmu, Isolo, and Ojo, and each of these fire trucks carry 10,000 litres of water,” Mr. Fadipe said.
“So on arrival, we met the tanker laden with 33,000 litres of PMS gushing out. There was heavy spillage, we quickly engaged in active fire fighting operations.
“You need chemicals in order for you to control this fire so I deployed 600 litres of protective foam, combined with the experience of the workers that came in,” he added.
Tuesday’s inferno at Apapa came less than 24 hours after a “serious” fire broke out at a sawmill market along Ipaja road. No life was, however, lost at the latter incident.
Four commercial buses, and three motor bikes, were razed by Wednesday’s fire, while recovered corpses have been deposited at the General Hospital, Yaba, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.
Eye witnesses said that the fire from a suya seller at the bus stop ignited the flame.
“The spillage caused all the vehicles to be running heater skelter. The passengers that were in the vehicle, every one of them fled. Unfortunately, some of them were caught up in the flame while they were trying to escape,” said Mr. Fadipe.
The charred remains of the tanker driver and his motor boy were recovered from the inside the truck, and three more burnt bodies lying on the ground were taken away, Mr. Fadipe added.
Stephen Obi, a trader, told PREMIUM TIMES, that his boss lost almost a billion naira to the fire.
“They just priced that Man Diesel truck with 12 tyres N6.7 million yesterday,” said Mr. Obi, pointing to the burnt metallic remains of the truck.
“My oga refused to sell. He said it is N7 million.
“Look at all our truck engines. Each is N1.5 million,” he added.
While the fire fighters tried to gain access to the bank, whose top floor was being gutted by the fire, area boys, clutching sledge hammers and axes lined up behind them in excitement.
“Immediately we came – we are aware of the contribution of banks to our economy, a lot of people have their cash trapped in there – so we quickly faced the bank.
“But many of these street boys came in and disturbed us seriously, so we had to leave the place,” Mr. Fadipe added.
At the premises of the Sterling bank, three insurance company officials discussed beside two burnt cars. A charred cash counting machine sat atop one of the cars.
A staff of the bank who declined to state his name admitted that their office was looted during the inferno.