No fewer than 200 shops were destroyed on Thursday after fire razed some sections of the sawmill in the Jakande Market, in the Ikosi-Ketu area of Lagos State.
This is just as a fuel-laden tanker went up in flames at the MRS filling station in the Lawanson area of the state.
The Ketu fire, which started around 4am, also destroyed three cars, an office and a toilet facility within the market. Traders estimated their losses at millions of naira.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the fire was caused by an electrical surge from two of the prepaid meters in the saw mill.
Most of the victims approached by our correspondent declined comments as some of them were busy salvaging what remained of their property.
A trader, lamenting his loss, said in Yoruba, “What do you want us to be saying when our property has been destroyed? About 200 shops and several milling machines were burnt. I just brought goods of about N3m yesterday (Wednesday) and everything is gone just like that. One of the burnt cars was bought a few months ago.”
Another shop owner, Waheed Adekeye, said he lost his planks and machines worth N5m to the inferno.
He said, “I got a call that the sawmill was on fire. Before I reached here, all my planks and three machines of about N5m had been burnt.”
A youth, who identified himself only as Shina, said he was woken up by smoke, adding that he escaped death by a whisker.
He said, “I am a tailor. I have a shop here and I sometimes pass the night in the shop. The fire started around 4am. It was the smoke that woke me up. By the time I rushed out, the fire had almost reached me. All my machines were burnt.”
A resident, Tunde Kolawole, said the state firefighters arrived at the scene about one hour after the fire started and put it out around 8am. He appealed to the state Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, to come to the aid of the traders.
“I live close to the sawmill. I heard people shouting, ‘help, help’. I saw the fire raging and dashed out to the scene. The firefighters came a bit late, but they tried their best,” he said.
The Director of the Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Rasak Fadipe, said firefighters from Alausa and Ilupeju stations went to the scene.
“Immediately we got a distress call at about 4.30am, firefighters mobilised to the market and the fire was put out around 7am. No life was lost to the inferno and nobody sustained injury,” he said
The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Michael Akindele, urged market authorities to procure gadgets that could be used to combat fire while awaiting firefighers.
“We are yet to ascertain the cause of the fire, but it severely burnt down sections of the market. Three vehicles were burnt, while several shops were completely razed down. Post disaster assessment will be conducted by LASEMA,” he added.
In Lawanson, a fuel-laden tanker went up in flames while discharging its content at the MRS filling station in the area.
Two buildings and the filling station were said to have been affected by the fire.
The spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency, South West, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the fire had been put out in the station and a building.
He said, “We received a distress call around 6pm. A tanker was trying to discharge its contents when the fire started . It affected the filling station and two residential buildings. We are left with one of the buildings. It will be put out soon.”