The popular Amu Plank Market in Mushin, Lagos, was razed by a midnight fire Saturday destroying properties worth millions of Nigeria.
There were no casualties as residents and traders battled without success to put out the fire.
Witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES that officials of the Lagos State Fire and Safety Agency arrived the scene about four hours after the fire began.
But Lagos emergency officials said they arrived the scene within an hour of the inferno.
Tajud Sanni, the Youth Chairman of Amu Plank Market, insisted the fire officials arrived late.
“I was called at 12:30 a.m. that there is fire outbreak in the market but nobody knew the cause of the fire,” he said.
“I asked them to break the shops and make use of the fire extinguisher but it was not enough to quench the fire I was called back that the fire has not been quenched that they had informed the fire fighters but
unfortunately they didn’t respond on time”.
“We alerted them at 12 a.m. they did not appear until 4 a.m. in the morning on their arrive we were informed that they do not have water. The fire station in Surulere asked Mr Kamal to deposit his car before they could followed him to the fire incident.”
Mr Sanni said the traders are unhappy because the government failed to respond to their distress calls despite the taxes they pay.
“We are not happy with the state government the market has been burned tEd the ground, we are citizens we should be protected the damages in the market is more than 10 billion naira.
“Meanwhile, we had never experienced such in the market for the past 55 years. It is an international market and there is nothing to show any more, you can get all your building materials in Amu market.”
A shop owner who identified himself simply as Mr Abdullahi burst into tears while narrating his loss.
“The fire had extended beyond Amu market, Palm Avenue, is also affected, early this morning residents had gathered to quench the fire when it started around 12 a.m. but they keep pouring water but there was no effect.
“There are debts on ground, goods worth millions had been razed by fire now the market is burning to ground there is nothing we can do.
“We did not receive assistance not until 4 a.m.”
Another trader, Mrs Omotola, said they were having a Muslim vigil when they noticed the fire.
“When it happened we were all afraid that we rushed out to quench the fire, the fire was not much when it started but it was beyond our capacity to quench, the markets and it’s environs has just burned to ground even the mosque.”
According to a press statement from the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the fire was reported at about 1.25 a.m.
“The First Responders had long been at work since about 02:00a.m, inspite of the rumours spreading that the Fire Services responded without water in their appliances, with claims that the curtailed Fire was still raging and spreading fast” Nosa Okunbor, LASEMA public affairs officer, said.
“Situation Report on the Fire Outbreak at Amu Timber Market in Mushin by the LASEMA Response Teams has it that upon arrival at incident scene, it was observed that many plank shops and adjoining residential buildings were gutted by the raging fire.”
He said investigations at the incident site showed that the fire was caused by an electrical surge.
“Though an actual amount of damage wrought by the fire can not yet be given until proper enumeration is conducted, conservative estimates and tentative analysis has it that the inferno has razed goods and properties worth several millions of naira.
“There was no loss of lives attributed to the inferno, nor has any responder sustained any injuries despite the hindrance caused by miscreants who are bent on constituting a problem with their unsolicited assistance.
“The inferno is currently being combated by the combined efforts of LASEMA Fire Unit with two fire trucks, Julius Berger Fire Unit with two fire trucks and a Water Tanker, the Lagos State Fire Service with two fire trucks, the Federal Fire Service, the RRS, LNSC and the community”.