By Abuchi Onwumelu
Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, has commiserated with the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, over a fire incident that gutted a part of the bishop’s office at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Awka.
The entrance to the office of the Catholic bishop of Awka Diocese, was on Saturday, 5th October, gutted by fire.
The fire affected the passage leading to the bishop’s office and was about penetrating his office before it was discovered and contained by those around the vicinity.
According to an eyewitness, the fire, suspected to have been caused by a heated inverter, started between 5 and 6pm that evening and destroyed the inverters on the passage way leading to the bishop’s office.
In his words, ‘The fire was already licking the windows, walls and ceiling on the passage leading to the bishop’s office in attempt to penetrate the office through any available hole when the bishop’s driver and some priests, as well as other persons within the vicinity, intervened by using the standby fire extinguishers. They had almost controlled the situation before the arrival of the fire service men.’
Meanwhile, the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, last Monday, paid an unscheduled visit to Bishop Ezeokafor in his office to sympathize with him over the fire incident.
The Governor, who arrived at the Bishop’s office at about 11:45am, left after a 10-minute private chat with the bishop.
Governor Obiano who told newsmen that he had come to sympathize with the bishop, expressed happiness that no life was lost.
Speaking to Fides shortly after the Governor’s departure, Bishop Ezeokafor expressed gratitude to the Governor for his quick response to the incident, describing it as an act worthy of emulation.
The Catholic prelate said the fire was sparked off by a faulty solar inverter and thanked God that no life or important documents were lost.
‘I was surprised to receive a call from the Governor less than an hour after the incident occurred because I didn’t know he was already aware,’ he said.
‘I was still trying to calm my nerves to get the details because I don’t like working under shock when he insisted he must come to see things himself. His coming here was not just to look at things, but to see what he can do. And I’m sure something is in the pipeline,’ he said.
Giving more details about the incident, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the bishop, Mr Abuchi Onwumelu, said the inferno occurred at about 5pm that Saturday but was put out by men and women of goodwill who rallied round alongside the State Fire Service who responded quickly to an emergency call.
‘The fire was caused by electrical fault at the inverters. The building was saved with little damage, including part of the ceiling and the inverters.
‘Those present alongside some priests fought the fire with fire extinguishers before the arrival of the State Fire Service led by the Director/Chief Fire Officer, Engr. Martin Agbili,’ the bishop’s spokesman said.