Firefighters, Police Absent as Fire Guts Shops in Onitsha

By Jude Atupulazi

Firefighters and police were nowhere to be found as fire razed five shops within the premises of the Onitsha General Post Office along Old Market Road, Onitsha in the early hours of last Sunday.

Fides gathered that the fire started around 12.30 in the midnight of Sunday as a result of a suspected power surge which emanated from one of the shops.

Eyewitnesses said as the fire was about to escalate into a nearby filling station close to the scene, it created panic and people and members of local vigilante groups quickly intervened to control the fire.

Goods and property worth millions of Naira were said to have been destroyed in the fire.

A trader, Monica Awuruebo, whose shop was razed by the fire, said she lost all her goods, cash and other items in the fire incident.

Awuruebo said, ‘A food vendor who is my neighbour called me on the telephone to rush to the post office immediately because my shop was on fire. I rushed to the scene and behold, my goods in the shop have been turned to ashes and not a pin was recovered from my shop.

‘Even my creditor that I told to come and collect her money and because she wasted time, the money and my goods were lost to the fire. We have about five shops here and they were all torched, including scores of make-shift structures.

‘You can see that we have a Total Filling station close and if not by the grace of God, it would have been gutted by fire and that would have caused more damage and even loss of life. Thank God no life was lost.’

Awuruebo, who said the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained, alleged that it could have resulted from a power surge.

Fides gathered that there was no presence of firefighters or policemen at the scene as the residents claimed that all efforts made to alert firefighters proved abortive.

The state fire chief, Martin Agbili, reportedly did not respond to calls  nor text messages.