A night inferno on Wednesday razed a filling station, 10 vehicles, 13 buildings and other property worth millions of naira on Upper New Market Road in Onitsha.
An eyewitness told newsmen on Thursday, that the fire started at about 8 p.m when an articulated vehicle, laden with petrol, fell inside Mobil filling station by Dennis Memorial Grammer School (DMGS) roundabout.
According to the eyewitness, fuel from the tanker flowed down the road through the drainage, leading to the spread of the fire.
The source said the inferno affected parts of a popular building known as Kamo plaza where two banks have offices but that minimal damages were recorded.
Mrs Chinelo Onyeuna, a victim and Manager of Bencash Investment Nig. Ltd., a company dealing in electronics and furniture, said she lost items worth N100 million to the inferno.
“We had so many goods worth over N100 million. Just look at our plaza, it has burnt down completely.
“Government should stop all the people operating filling stations near residential buildings,” Onyeuna said. She appealed for assistance from the state government to cushion the effect of the fire.
Another victim, Mrs Juana Oboli, from Onitsha, said she lost her residential building which she laboured for 12 years to build.
Oboli, a widow and civil servant with the Nigerian Prison Service, Awka, also urged the state government to help her recover from her loss. “I struggled for more than 12 years to complete the house after I lost my husband; I want government to intervene because I don’t have anybody else to help me in this case,” Oboli said.
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer,(PPRO) for the police command in the state, ASP Nkeiruka Nwode, said three suspected hoodlums were arrested during an effort to quell the fire.
“We only have five houses burnt, we have like 15 vehicles and five tricycles burnt. I want to thank God who did all these things possible that no life was lost. “We only had casualties who were taken to the hospital as at the time we were here last night. “I really want to advise the public that, they should help government for government to help them.
“Some of these shanty houses around, some of these attachments could even be what ignited the fire the more,” she said.
The Executive Director of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr Paul Odenigbo, explained that the fire service responded early enough to the inferno.
Odenigbo said fire fighters from Asaba were called in to assist those from Onitsha and Okpoko when SEMA exhausted its water.
“The incident happened about 8 p.m when the tanker coming from Awka road, Onitsha was negotiating the DMGS roundabout and lost control inside the Mobil filling station.
“One of the fuel dispensers later caught fire which spread down the road, destroying vehicles and buildings,” he said.
He said those 13 houses, 10 vehicles, three tricycles and three filling stations: Mobil, MRS and Total filling stations were affected by the fire.