Properties and goods worth millions of naira went up in flames with no less than ten families displaced and shop owners recounting loses after a fire outbreak in the early hours of Saturday in Jikwoyi, FCT.
Eyewitnesses who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday said they noticed the fire in one of the shops while on their way from a vigil at about 3am on Saturday. They said while it was possible that the fire might have been caused by faulty wiring or sparks, a generator already loaded with fuel in one of the shops was believed to have further triggered the pace at which the fire raise down the buildings.
’’It was this shop that the fire started from’’ said an eyewitness who preferred to stay anonymity. ’’We saw it when we were coming from the church this morning and before you know it, there was an explosion. It was a generator and I believe there was fuel in it.
’’At this time people living inside the compound were not aware of what was happening till they were alerted by some security men but then it was almost late’’, he narrated.
Mr. Ufong Basey a victim of the incident
’’I was sleeping when I heard a knock at my gate and I was not ready to wake up then because it was too early but the knocking became serious and I heard people screaming fire!, fire! That was when I realised I was in danger.
’’The only I could do was to dress up horridly. I came out only to find out that things have gotten out of hand. I met people outside either trying to help or escape because we have only one entrance to the compound which is no more like a door.
With the nature of the fire I could not go in again to even pick my phone or my credentials. I have lost everything including my documents. The only thing I came out with are the clothes I am wearing now, he lamented.
’’When they called the fire service at Karu, there was no response from them till someone tried that of Karishi. When they came they did their best to put off the fire and prevented it from spreading to the next compound, but it was late for people like us’’, recount Mr Basey.
Another victim, Mrs Devin David said she could not believe she could lose all her valuables in twinkle of an eye.
I can’t really recall clearly what happened. They brought our light late at night and some hours later, I started perceiving some burnt and I opened my kitchen in three different occasions to check where the smell was coming from but didn’t see anything. I walk around and checked and didn’t notice anything.
It at about 3am or there about that a good Samaritan, a security man started hitting gate shouting that we should come out but I told my husband not to go out because of security purpose. But the man insisted and started shouting that fire is coming.
That was how we all came out but then the flame was out of control. We could not go in again to take anything. We could not call fire service because we left our phones inside the house. I rushed to a man driving along the street and begged him to call the service, which he did but they didn’t pick. At this time people started coming trying to help break some of the shops that were not affected then but they could only do little.
’’The building is so chocked because the shops are blocking the house from the outside and that really hindered those who help, said Mrs David who broke into tears saying she didn’t come out with anything and now being harboured by a good Samaritan.
’’My credentials, my husbands’ and that of my brother have been eaten up by fire. My husband is dry cleaner and he came back home last night with people clothes and all is gone’’, she cried out.
Mr. M Joe, a hair stylist, who also own one of the affected shops said it was an unexpected disaster. He said it was sad that it is happening at this time of the year when people are just recovery from the recent economic shock. It is too early for the year. My shop has gone, so what? He asked.
’’My neighbour who owned a fashion store close to mine lost millions of naira to the outbreak. Her industrial sewing machines and other valuables have all gone. I feel for her more than the way I am pained in the inside, said Mr Joe.
Mr. Andy Onekpe who escaped the sad incident said he and his wife and three children were almost victims but for the intervention of the Karishi fire service. They came late but they have save more disaster than what happened here today.
You can see how the houses are arranged. They are so chocked that anything affecting one could easily penetrate to the other. My wife had a one week one week old baby and we were all in the bedroom when we heard the shout of fire. My apartment was almost affected but for the help of some neighbours till the arrival of fire service.
He said there is a need for a fire service station to be stationed in Jikwoyi. According Mr. Onekpe, ’’ Jikwoyi is a very populated place in the FCT and you should expect something like this because most areas here are slump like.’’