Heavy loss as fire guts Lagos market

…sources claim some of the fire trucks that came had no water

A five-storey building on Gbajumo Street, Balogun Market, in the Lagos Island Local Government Area of Lagos State was on Wednesday night gutted by fire, leading to the loss of goods worth millions of naira.

Firefighters of the Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service were said to have arrived at the scene and battled the fire till 4pm on Thursday.

Other agencies at the scene included the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the National Emergency Management Agency, the Emergency Response Unit of the Lagos Island Central Business District, the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Agency, and officials of the sanitation corps of the Lagos Island LGA.

A resident said the fire started on the first floor before it affected the entire building.

He said, “When we heard about the inferno last night (Wednesday), we rushed down to this place and saw that there was electricity in the building while it was burning. We assisted the firefighters in quenching it but in the middle of the night, we realised that the fire had progressed to the second floor.

“At that point, we came to the conclusion that the situation was beyond control. Sadly, some of the fire trucks that came had no water. They had to go borrow a fire truck from the United Bank of Africa. By 6am today (Thursday), the inferno had progressed to the third and fourth floors.”

Another resident slammed the firefighters for not having water in their trucks.

“About five trucks came but all we could hear was that there was no water. Some people were rushed to a hospital after they got injured in the rescue operation,” he added.

A trader said, “Some traders lost goods worth N10m while others lost goods worth N40m. The least loss recorded is N3m. Items sold in the market included Italian shoes, bags, suits, and children’s shoes. Some traders just bought goods for the New Year.”

A resident who participated in the rescue operation however said some goods were salvaged.

“Unfortunately, the goods recovered were not up to what the inferno consumed. We couldn’t even recover up to a quarter of what the building housed,” he added.

The Assistant Corps Marshal, Environmental, Lagos Island, Mr Yekini Awere, said foreign shoes, bags and ladies’ wear were lost to the inferno.

He said, “I heard that the inferno was caused by high voltage of electricity that was supplied to the market around 11pm on Wednesday. Also, the occupants of the building had gone home at the time the inferno started.”

Among those on the rescue operation was a Nigerien suspected to be diverting goods.

He was beaten up by residents and chased away.

In a statement on Thursday, LASEMA said the cause of the fire had yet to be ascertained.

“Fortunately, there is no loss of life or casualty,” the statement added.

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