What would have been a major fire disaster was averted Sunday at Industrial Street, Trinity Bus-Stop, Apapa, Lagos, an area densely populated by tank farms, when concerted efforts resulted in putting out a blazing inferno.
However, over 30 shops were razed and property worth millions of naira destroyed during the fire that gutted Speedwell Plaza. The late afternoon fire, it was learnt, was caused by an electrical surge in one of the many shops located in the plaza.
The combined efforts of the residents as well as that of the Lagos State Fire Service and Julius Berger Fire Service helped to bring the inferno under control.
The fire in the building, which housed shops dealing in tyres, spare parts and other inflammable goods, caused panic because of the fear that it could spread to the several tank farms around the area.
The fire was said to have started at about 2pm after an electrical surge occurred in one of the shops upstairs.
According to eyewitness accounts, the surge could have been caused by the force at which current came back to the electrical wires after two weeks of blackout.
One of the eyewitnesses, Mazi Iheme, told Newsmen that the fire started with smoke billowing out before it snowballed into an inferno.
He said: “It started by dissipating smoke and we called the fire service but before they arrived about an hour later, the smoke had turned to fire and razed down people’s property.”
The owner of JJ Restaurant, Madam Lilian Ude, lamented that she lost all to the fire. The restaurant had occupied six shops upstairs plus a kitchen, which was located downstairs.
According to her, she was heading to Airport Road, when she got a call informing her about the fire, and she had to rush down to see if she could salvage anything from her shops.
She said: “While some people were able to recover some of their property, I wasn’t that lucky because I was not around. I lost everything, including two big generators I used in powering my shops.”
Although, no life was lost, the incident might have led to loss of lives had the fire broke out in the night. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the shop owners told our sources that some apprentice traders sleep in the shops in order to be able to open early in the morning for business, adding that they could have died in their sleep if the fire had broken out in the night.