Traders at the Balogun market in Lagos Island have been counting their losses following the early morning fire outbreak on Monday.
In separate interviews, the traders said about 11 containers of bags, shoes and clothing materials had just been off loaded into some of the shops that were razed.
Kadiri Kareem, an attendant in one of the shops, said her employer had goods worth N27 billion in his containers.
“The containers have just arrived and we have barely completed offloading the goods.
“Nothing has been sold out of them before this fire. This is not a good way to start the New Year,’’ she said.
The traders put the loss at N30 billon.
Another trader, Okechukwu Anyiam, said he lost goods in four shops and does not know how to start quantifying the losses.
“My God, is this how I will start this New Year?
“When we left yesterday there was no sign that there will be fire. Where do I start from here,’’ he lamented.
“It is not good to rent many shops in one place,’’ Mrs Iyabo Adebola, another trader said.
Many of the shops razed in the plaza are owned by wholesale traders in wears and accessories.
The Secretary of the Balogun Community in Central Lagos, Rasaq Ekunsumi, said that the fire started around 4 a.m. from one of the containers attached to the five-storey building.
He said that the building first went up in flames and spread to other shops.
He added that the fire spread quickly because the items in the containers were inflammable.
“We started calling the fire service immediately the flame was noticed. But they did not arrive until fire had spread to two adjacent buildings.
“It is not what we could handle because the fire began where rubber products are being sold,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Rasaq Fadipe, the Director, Lagos State Fire Service, has called for assistance from other rescue agents as they moved equipment to fight the inferno.
He made the call while inspecting the firefighting operation at the market.
He said the help was needed to remove obstructions around the area to enable fire trucks access the buildings and combat the fire.
Both the National Emergency management Agency, NEMA, and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, were on ground to assist the fire service in curtailing further spread of the fire.
The Lagos State Building Control Agency, LASBCA, the Red Cross and Lagos Island Community leaders.