Fire has wreaked havoc on 15 shops on Balogun Road in the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State, destroying goods worth millions of naira
It was gathered that the fire started around 2am.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the fire started from one of the shops and spread to the others before help could come.
When our correspondent visited the scene, residents were seen lamenting the damage the fire had done to the shops and the goods in them, noting that some of the shop owners had been hospitalised.
One of the shop owners, simply identified as Bolaji, urged the state government to come to the aid of the victims.
Bolaji, who is a printer, noted that all his customers’ jobs got burnt, adding that he was unable to salvage any.
He said, “Everything in my shop got burnt. I bought one machine last week for N250,000 for the end of the year heavy schedule, but it got burnt. All my customers’ works as well as computers, three generators, souvenir materials and machines got burnt.
“The government should come to our aid, because we do not know where to start from. As I am talking to you, I am very distraught; some of the other shop owners have been admitted to hospital.
“One of the affected shop owners, an Igbo man who sells provisions, wines and other things, lost his sanity because he just stocked his shop yesterday (Tuesday).”
Another shop owner, Lukman Adejola, who deals in clocks and wristwatches, said his phone was switched off when the fire started, adding that all his goods had been burnt before he got to the scene.
He stated, “I learnt that the fire started around 2am but my phone was switched off; when I switched it on this morning, I received a call that all the shops had been gutted by fire; so, I rushed down here and saw that everything had been burnt down; we could not bring anything out.
“The government should please come to our aid, because the shops and the goods in them were what we are using to keep body and soul together; so, we will appreciate anything it can do for us.”
One of the first responders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said residents of the area tried to salvage the goods in the shops, but they did not succeed as the shops were securely locked.
He said, “When we got here this morning, we tried to open the shops to help them pack the goods out, but we could not open the locks, which had become hard due to the heat of the fire.
“We do not know what started the fire; the vigilantes said they saw smoke coming out from one of the shops and raised the alarm. There was no power supply when the traders shut their shops on Tuesday. I think when power was restored around midnight, a wire in one of the shops sparked and ignited a fire, which spread to the other shops.
“The damage done would not have been this much if the fire service had responded earlier and the fire truck that later came had no water until another truck came, that was when the firefighters started extinguishing the inferno.”
Lamenting the goods lost to the inferno, a resident, who identified herself simply as Mummy Yetunde, said almost all the traders had their shops fully stocked with goods.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the state Fire Service, Muinat Adeleke-Ashimi, told PUNCH Metro that she would make an enquiry and get back to our correspondent, but she had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
In a related development, fire gutted the upper floor of a one-storey shopping plaza on Akerele Street in the Surulere area of the state on Wednesday.
The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency said preliminary investigation conducted at the scene of the incident revealed that the inferno resulted from power surge in one of the shops before spreading to other parts of the plaza.
The Public Affairs Officer, LASEMA, Nosa Okunbor, said in a statement that there was no loss of life or injury, but goods worth millions of naira were lost to the inferno.
Okunbor stated that apart from LASEMA personnel, men of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps, and the federal and Lagos State fire services were battling to prevent the fire from spreading to the adjoining buildings.