By Chiemelie Ezeobi
A raging inferno Tuesday gutted a high rise building housing shops and residential homes at the Balogun Market, Victoria Island area in Lagos.
Although firefighters extinguished the flames after hours of battling the fire, billows of smoke continued to emanate from the burnt buildings as at press time.
While the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, eyewitnesses however revealed that it started from one of the shops in the high rise building before it spread to other shops, then other buildings.
Also, although no casualty was recorded, the fire however destroyed goods worth billions of naira before fire fighters arrived to battle the flames.
As at the last count, some traders claimed over 100 shops were gutted because the fire exacerbated and spread to other shops given the highly inflammable materials such as wears, air conditioners and generators filled with fuel, it came in contact with.
Although some traders succeeded in salvaging their goods initially when the fire began, others were not so lucky as hoodlums and the fire made a mincemeat of their products.
Also, initial attempts by people to quench the fire proved abortive as the inferno proved stronger than the buckets of water thrown at it.
Meanwhile, as the fire was raging, some hoodlums were more concerned with robbing the stores of the stocked goods despite efforts by the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) to curtail it.
Eyewitnesses who spoke to THISDAY lamented that the fire had raged for a long time before the fire service could gain access.
By the time the fire service could gain access, the fire had torched other nearby houses and despite efforts to put out the flame, the inferno raged till the fire engine had no more water.
This fire incident has again brought to the fore the need for emergency awareness trainings for people to make way for emergency responders to do their jobs.
Also, another hindrance to efforts to quench the fire were the roadside traders who had displayed their wares on the sidewalks, thus making access to the fire scene difficult.
Confirming the incident, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) General Manager, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the emergency responders were able to put out the inferno due to swift response.
Adding that the fire was exacerbated by combustible materials stored in the building, he said:
“The Lagos State Government is committed to protection of lives and property of citizens and would not leave any stone unturned to ensure that.
“We are going to launch a holistic investigation into the cause of this inferno with the aim to prevent future occurrence and sanction offenders appropriately to serve as deterrence to others”.