Fire razes 100 buildings, kills two traders

No fewer than 100 makeshift structures were razed on Monday after fire ravaged a part of Small Kuramo in the Lekki area of Lagos State.

Two people, identified as Kemi and Azeez, aka Akube, were burnt to death in the inferno.

The duo were said to be asleep and were choked by smoke.

PUNCH Metro gathered that valuables worth millions of naira were destroyed in the fire.

However, the cause of the fire could not be ascertained as there were conflicting accounts.

While residents said the fire started after a generator exploded in one of the cabins, the Lagos State Fire Service said the explosion was from a shanty where the occupant was cooking near a keg filled with petrol.

A resident, who did not identify himself, said the fire created confusion in the community.

He said, “The fire started a few minutes to 3am. We tried our best to put it out, but we couldn’t.

“When we saw the way the fire was spreading, we started salvaging our property.

“The intervention of the fire service, however, minimised the damage.”

Our correspondent observed that the shanties served both residential and commercial purposes.

A part of the cabins also sheltered commercial sex workers.

A trader in the community, Jude Obi, said he lost goods estimated at N3m, adding that some hoodlums took advantage of the situation to steal some of his wares.

He said, “I have two cabins here and they were stocked with different kinds of clothes. When someone raised the fire alarm, I tried to save my goods.

“Those that I was able to bring out and put on the road were stolen. I don’t want to remember my loss, because it brings tears into my eyes. I lost goods worth N3m.”

Another member of the community, who identified himself only as Orioye, said despite their losses, they lived in fear.

“We are in a hopeless situation. We cannot ask for help from the government or any Nigerian because many people don’t see us as a part of the society. We are citizens of this country and we don’t deal in illegal business here,” Orioye said.

The secretary to the traders at the Lekki Beach Road, Michael Onuwaje, said preliminary investigation by the community showed that the fire started from a generator.

“While some claim it was a faulty generator which was being repaired that caused the fire, others said as they were fuelling a generator that was working, an explosion resulted. The fire spread to other structures.

“Azeez, who was one of our traders, was burnt to death while asleep. He was 27 years old. Another lady, whom we have not been able to identify, was also killed,” he added.

It was learnt that policemen from the Ilasan division took the charred remains of the deceased to a mortuary.

Onuwaje said the material loss was valued at N20m, adding that there was no plan to rehabilitate the victims.

The Director of the Lagos State Fire Service, Rasak Fadipe, said firefighters from Lekki Phase 1 and Phase 2 responded to the fire.

He added that over 100 structures were destroyed by the fire.

He said, “We got the distress call around past 3am and immediately we got there, we discovered they were shanties which covered about four acres of land.

“But the fire had already spread to a space of about four plots. We engaged in active firefighting operation and ensured the fire did not spread beyond the position we met it.

“In the course of the operation, we discovered two bodies at different locations and we handed the corpses to the police.

“While the female was identified as Kemi, no one could identify the man.

“We gathered that the fire started after an explosion caused by a woman, who was cooking near a keg of petrol.”

Punch

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