A man refueling his generator in Shibiri area of Ojo Local Government Area, Lagos State, ended up setting shops attached to a palace ablaze.
It was gathered that 25 shops attached to the palace of the Elekunpa of Ekunpa, Oba Kosoko, Kazeem, were set ablaze by the man refueling his generator, and owners of the burnt goods resorted to auctioning the remainder of their goods, while others, who had sustained burns from the fire, were nursing their injuries.
Eucharia Abu, one of the victims of the incident who spoke to a Punch correspondent, said that a boy was pouring fuel into a working generator, which led to an explosion that caused all the shops attached to the palace to be burnt.
“Around 2pm, one of the boys employed at the Bet9ja shop was pouring fuel into a generator when the generator and the keg of petrol caught fire. Out of fear, he threw the keg away and ran for safety; and it was that burning keg that attracted another generator, before the fire spread to the food vendor, who was using gas to cook. It was when the fire got in contact with the gas that the whole place exploded and the inferno got out of control.
“The fire burnt the whole shops, including the goods stacked in them; all my goods were burnt, because I was completely unaware that my shop and many other had been affected from behind. But when we noticed the fire, some boys got water to put it out, while others climbed the rooftop and started cutting planks that could attract fire. And that was how they prevented it from spreading to the palace building. I lost goods worth over N100, 000, but a man who sells flour here lost goods worth over N5m” she said.
Oba Kazeem Kosoko, who confirmed the incident said that he went for a meeting in Ojo when the incident occurred. He further disclosed that he was grateful that no life was lost to the inferno.
He said, “I went for a meeting in Ojo when I was informed that the shops were burning. I had to rush home but the gridlock was much. When I saw the damage the fire had caused when I got home, I had to thank God that no life was lost.
“I appreciate the efforts of all those who assisted in putting out the fire and also thank all the people and kings who came to commiserate with me.”
The Acting Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Rasaki Musibau, however blamed the incident on carelessness and failure to adhere to simple safety instruction of not fuelling generators while still working and to always contact fire officials for the management and control of fire, no matter how little.
“We received the fire alert around 2:56pm, turned out the Ojo Fire Station around 2:58pm and arrived at the scene of the incident by 3:05pm. The Ikotun Fire Station was called for backup, but the fire, which had escalated, was put out before their arrival. It was alleged that a shop owner was refuelling his generator while it was working.
“The Shibiri fire loss would have been prevented if there was an earlier call to professional fire fighters rather than trying to put out the fire by the residents, which aggravated it.
“Our officials were attacked with stones and pebbles, while a fire engine’s windscreen was broken. The police have been involved while the community leaders expressed their regret and pledged support towards rebuilding the destroyed properties and reaffirmed their commitment to safeguard government facilities as well as fish out the perpetrators” he said.
Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, who also confirmed the incident, said investigation into the case was ongoing.
“On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, fire gutted the shops attached to the palace of the Elekunpa of Ekunpa kingdom, Oba Kazeem Kosoko, located in Shibiri, Ilemba Hausa, Lagos State. When the fire started, our people contacted other responders to the distress situation. The fire was put out by a team of policemen and fire fighters mobilised to the scene” he said.