By Phil Okose, Onitsha
Many escaped death on Tuesday night as fire gutted a twin three-storey building at Emenike/Ezeugo road junction, in Okpoko, Ogbaru local government area, Anambra state.
The inferno, according to eyewitness started around 8pm in one of the flats on the last floor where a gas cooker blew up. When Orient Daily reporter got to the scene on Wednesday morning, some tenants who fled the scene were seen counting their losses which included all their possessions to the inferno.
A brother to the owner of the building who did not disclose his name refused newsmen permission to take photographs of the burnt building and refused to respond to questions put across to him.
Efforts made by the Okpoko fire service men to put out the inferno yielded dividend as they were able to check its rise to higher floors even as the water used to quench it got finished midway, enabling the fire to advance to the second floor.
According to an eyewitness who pleaded anonymity, “on arrival to the scene the fire service men prevented the fire from extending to the second floor as they expertly fought it but their water got finished and the inferno got to the second floor”
“It was then smoke everywhere that enveloped the entire place forcing residents of the area and sympathisers to assist by pouring sand and water to the inferno and it was quenched.”
Properties estimated in millions of naira were burnt by the raging inferno prompting residents in the area to flee for their lives. Casual labourers and artisans were reportedly employed by the owner to clear the debris that included burnt sinks, among others.
Confirming the incident, the acting Okpoko divisional police officer, DPO, Mr. George E.M. Okoro, who said that no life was lost added that, “they said it was caused by gas explosion but we are yet to find out.”
Okoro, who ensured that Obodoukwu and Owerri roads were no longer blocked with wares by traders since after the tricycle auto crash in which two persons lost their lives, hinted that they were still investigating to ascertain the exact cause of the inferno.
In a related development, there was also fire at another three-storey building along Limca Old Road, Obosi same day and time. No life was lost and people rallied to quench it as it was about to escalate.
It was gathered that the cause may not be unconnected with a gas depot close to the scene where one of the cylinders reportedly exploded setting fire to the roof of the building.
By Phil Okose, Onitsha