By Chinwe Imo-Eze Onwosi
Mystery fire Wednesday, gutted and destroyed goods worth billions of naira in 3 warehouses at the Margaret Umahi International Market in Ebonyi State.
Chairman of Lot 1 section of the market, told journalists at the scene of the incident in Abakaliki that he received a distress call at about 3:am over the inferno and alerted the state and federal fire services.
He said that the fire fighters were deplored immediately with trucks to scene of the fire.
He estimated that goods lost to the inferno, were worth millions of naira.
“The fire partly affected the building and goods on the first and ground floors.
“While we were investigating cause of the fire, we observed through CCTV installed at the building that it was an electrical fault.
“It has destroyed warehouses where food items like noodles, tomatoes, macaroni and other stuffs in cartons are stored,” Oba said.
Speaking to newsmen, the brother of the owner of the affected warehouse, Mr Chidi Okechukwu, blamed the incident on poor security management in the market.
He said, “If I’m to say, the security personnel in the market knows when this fire started. We have no adequate security in this market.”
Okechukwu explained that the owner of the warehouse is the highest distributor of indomie noodles, tomato and other beverages.
“The owner of the warehouse is one of my brothers. This fire incident was said to have started by 2:00 am last night and have continued up till now and yet all efforts to quench it has not yielded any fruit.
“Many fire service officers are here, both the state and federal fire service officers. The sympathizers are also helping to quench the fire but there is no headway.
He said, “You can’t attribute it to power surge because there is no electricity in the International Market. It is very strange and surprising to us to hear that the warehouse is gutted by fire. From which source?
“We may not say it is somebody that did it. It is only God who know what really happened.”
Mr Walter Ibiam, Assistant superintendent and Head of Operation, Federal Fire Service said that cause of the inferno could not be ascertained at the moment.
He said that firefighters were deployed immediately with trucks of water to the scene of the fire.
He lamented that the distress call made was not prompt.
“We arrived at the scene of the incident after and hour thirty minutes of the fire because they did not alert us on time, it is a challenge.
“Imagine, even with all the sensitisation to the residents, to have emergency numbers of fire fighters incase of fire incident, but still did not call us on time,”He lamented.
He advised the general public to always take safety measures as a priority.
He further called on government to assist in providing chemicals and other essentials for fighting fire.
A sale representative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the incident as mystery.
He disclosed that a major distributor in the state whose items was destroyed by the inferno is a victim.
THE VOICE reports that no life was lost and efforts to speak with Mr Ralph Ibiam, Director, state fire service was not successful.