Scores of shops razed
Fire guts part of Civic Centre
Fire on Wednesday night razed several shops in Ajegunle, in Ifelodun Local Council Development Area (LCDA), of Lagos leaving six persons dead and 52 others critically injured. Also on Wednesday, part of Civic Centre caught fire at midnight. TAJUDEEN ADEBANJO reports.
Eye witnesses said the fire started like a movie scene. A gas vendor at Aduke Street, Off Ojo Road, Ajegunle in Ifelodun Local Council Development Area (LCDA) of Lagos was filling a cylinder for a customer. A call came in and someone close by tried to receive the phone call and there was a blast!
By the time the coast was clear, six persons, including two kids, dies; several shops have been razed. Property worth millions of Naira lost, and fifty-two persons with severe burns on their bodies are in different hospitals.
Many were in tears yesterday when this reporter visited. Some stood in bewilderment – in deep thought of their losses. Those whose family members died in inferno wept uncontrollably. Two bodies of those burnt to death were partially covered on the floor.
At the hospitals, family members and well-wishers thronged to check their situation. Some hospital officials prevented them from gaining entrance not to disturb the doctors attending to the injured ones.
Some had part of their bodies plastered; others’ legs and hands were hanged. There were cries in the wards arising from their severe pains.
Some of the emergency responders at the scene include men of the Nigerian Police Force from Layeni Division, officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), firefighters, Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), among others.
LASEMA Director-General Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu confirmed the death of two people in the gas explosion. He added that many others who were seriously injured were rescued from the explosion.
Oke-Osanyintolu said when LASEMA officials arrived at the scene of the incident they discovered that a gas cylinder store had exploded as a result of gas leakage.
He said: “Our further investigations at the scene revealed that the fire ignited as a result of a phone call by an unidentified resident. This spread to other nearby shops and a bungalow behind the shops. Unfortunately, two children (a male and a female) lost their lives and there were other 23 casualties who sustained multiple burns.
“All the casualties have been evacuated to the Burnt Unit, Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos for treatment.”
Oke-Osanyintolu said the remains of one of the two bodies, identified as Damilare Afolabi, had been handed over to the family.
He, however, said the area had been cordoned off and that post-disaster assessment was ongoing. He urged residents to avoid the use of naked fire in the area to prevent further disaster.
“As a result of visible cracks and intensity of the fire, it is advised that a controlled demolition should be carried out on the burnt structure in order to prevent any secondary incident,” he said.
Ifelodun LCDA Chairman Fatai Shuaib Ajidagba told The Nation that six people died and those with severe cases have been transferred to General Hospital in Ajegunle and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
Others, he said, are at various hospitals in Ajeromi Ifelodun.
Ajidagba said: “We got a report that prior to the explosion, the gas vendor was filling the cylinder of a customer while at the same time fiddling with his mobile phone which led to the explosion.”
He called on the traders and residents in the community to be more safety-conscious, especially as the yuletide season approaches.
He spoke at the site of the gas explosion.
Ajidagba, who visited those injured in various hospitals, promised to foot the bills of their medical expenses and also pay for the burial expenses of those who lost their lives.
Those who joined him include a member of the Lagos House of Assembly representing Ajeromi Ifelodun Constituency I, Lukmon Olumo, DPO Layeni Division, council officials, Baales, chiefs and community leaders.
“Furthermore as part of the measures to forestall a reoccurrence of such incident, the council has immediately set up a committee charged with the responsibilities to locate, inspect and seal off the premises of any gas vendor who do not meet with the state government regulations and standard of such business,” he said.
While condoling with the community and traditional leaders over the unfortunate incident, Ajidagba commended the efforts of the DPO and men of the Nigerian Police Force, Layeni Division, LASEMA, LASAMBUS and firefighters, for their prompt response.
The Nation learnt that LASEMA officials prevented the potentially disastrous fire at Lagos Civic Centre.
The Fire Response Unit of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) in collaboration with the State Fire Service prevented a potentially disastrous fire at the Civic Centre in Lagos at midnight on Wednesday.
Oke-Osanyintolu, in a statement by the agency’s Public Affairs Officer, Mr Nosa Okunbor, said it took the timely response of the agency to douse a fire that broke out when the outdoor decorations on the Civic Centre caught fire at midnight on Wednesday.
“Investigations conducted at the scene of the incident reveal that the outdoor decorations on the building caught fire but it was extinguished by responders of the agency on the scene before further escalation to other parts of the building.
“The situation was quickly brought under control by the LASEMA Response Team and the Fire Service, who were swift, effective and efficient in their operations.
“I will attribute the quick dousing to calls through the 767 and 112 toll-free numbers, plus incessant training of LASEMA staff,” Oke-Osanyintolu said.
He advised the public to take adequate precaution during the harmattan season by being alert to fire outbreaks especially when storing combustible material within their immediate environs.
He urged the general public to purchase and position of appropriate sized fire extinguishers in their homes and offices.
Oke-Osanyintolu also urged owners of large properties and vast businesses to invest in Fire Hydrants, to mitigate fire outbreak in their establishments.