Hundreds of worshipers, who attended morning Mass at the Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral, Nnewi, Anambra State, narrowly escaped as early morning fire gutted a petrol station beside the church.
The petrol station, Great V. Max Oil & Gas, located along Nnobi Road, Nnewi, close to the cathedral, was gutted by fire, at about 7am on Friday, when worshipers were still dispersing after church service; thereby, causing commotion and making people run helter-skelter.
When Daily Trust visited the scene, fire fighters from Nnewi area were still making efforts to quench the fire; while traders and transport companies, within the vicinity were busy evacuating their vehicles and goods.
The fuel station supervisor, who gave his name as Umaru Sanda, said the fire started when they were trans-loading diesel from one tanker to another.
“The fire started when we were trans-loading diesel from a bigger tanker to another smaller one. We connected pumping machine from the bigger tanker to the smaller one. Along the line, the pipe connecting the two tankers from the machine pulled off, and the gas started pouring on the ground. When we were still mobilizing to fix the pipe, the heated pumping machine sparked fire; destroying the entire dispensing machines, the gas tanker, and a lot of other things,” he said.
A pump attendant at the petrol station, who simply gave her name as Chinelo, said she raised the alarm when she observed that diesel scattered the filling station; but that help could not come as quickly as required before the fire started.
“I was attending to motorists when the fire started. I noticed that the pipe connecting the two vehicles from the pumping machine pulled off, and diesel was pouring all over the place. I raised the alarm; but before we knew it, the fire had started” she said.
She said fire service from Nnewi responded as soon as they were informed; but that the fire had destroyed a lot of things.
Special Assistant to Governor Willie Obiano on Petroleum Matters, Mr. Peter Nwosu, who also visited the scene of the incident with the Divisional Police Officer of Otolo Police Station, Mr. Hassan, described the development as a big loss.
Nwosu, who is also the chairman of NUPENG, Anambra State, urged residents, including operators of petrol stations, to be very careful the way they handle the product at this period.