Hell Comes To Rivers Community

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Mini-Ewa, a Port Harcourt ghetto community was few days ago set alight and razed to the ground by an inferno that is blamed on carelessness of one man. Anayo Onukwugha writes that none of the residents salvaged a thing.

Mini-Ewais a popular ghetto community named after Ewa, a creek that crisscrosses communities in Obio/Akpor local government area of Rivers State.

The peace of this slum, located in the heart of Rumuobiakani community, the host of the industrial area of oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was shattered recently following a fire incident that razed over 80 houses and rendered over 200 persons homeless.

According to a resident of the community, who gave his name as Mike, the blaze which started at about 1:00 p.m. was caused by an electric iron that had been left unattended to on apparel that as being ironed.

Mike disclosed that power supply had been interrupted in the process of the ironing and the owner was said to have left without switching off the device.

According to the resident, the ini-Ewa heat of the iron ignited fire, which quickly spread through the apartment, and consequently through the thickly clustered collection of makeshift buildings.

The fire was only put out in the afternoon by a heavy downpour in Port Harcourt, as the personnel of Nigerian Fire Services were unable to access the area.

Another resident of the community, who pleased for anonymity, said the fire started from one of the shanties after the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) restored powersupply, which came with excessive strength.

She stated that the occupants were not around when the fire started and lost all their belongings to the fire.

A victim of the fire incident, Mr. Wisdom Samuel Aso, who lost all his property to the fire disaster, passionately appealed for relocation by the government.

Aso said, “I beg the governor to come to our help; we are law abiding citizens of this country. We are not criminals. I went to work at Buguma when a neighbour called and told me that the compound was on fire, nothing was rescued from my house and as we speak now, my wife put to bed two days ago and is still in the hospital. I don’t have anywhere to go with them now.”

Another victim, Eze Onyeoma, also appealed to Governor Wike to come to their aide,  lamenting that they lost their properties in the inferno.

To the commanding officer of the Federal Fire Service, South-South command, Mr Njoku Chika, most residents of Port Harcourt do not take preventive measures to curtail the spread of fire when it occurs.

Njoku said, “People need to be sensitized, we have been talking to them on safety and safety measures.”

He stated that most of the fire outbreaks start in small occurrences but due to ignorance such fires are not attended to, adding that most people do not know how to contact the fire service during such outbreaks.

Njoku decried the situation where people try to salvage and save their property in the event of fire out break without thinking about contacting the fire service.

However, Njoku acknowledged that the Fire Service is severely challenged by the absence of modern fire-fighting equipment.