…Victims call for government assistance
NPA residents woke up early on Monday to devastating news of the fire outbreak that destroyed the popular Miller waterside in the oil city of Warri with goods worth hundreds of millions of naira destroyed within the five hours the inferno lasted.
Although investigation is on to ascertain the cause of the fire, several eyewitnesses told GbaramatuVoice that it started from a floating petrol station, but was first noticed around 11:00pm the previous day.
Property worth millions of naira including houses, shops, barges and boats were said to have been destroyed by the raging fire.
Victims were seen counting their losses when GbaramatuVoice team visited the scene.
Speaking with the GbaramatuVoice, Madam Ada, a shop owner, said that her case was hopeless because she depended on the business and used that to feed her family.
She said: “I left my shop to the house, after 25 minutes, I received a call that my shop is on fire.”
“I believe those boys smoking cigarettes caused the fire because nobody was around and I just locked my shop. All my goods worth millions of Naira are gone. I lost eight deep freezers, bags of rice, and other valuables worth millions of Naira,” She said.
Another victim of the inferno, Tibati Weleke, the chairman of Boat Owners Union, Miller Waterside, said: “Yesterday, I got home around 9pm. By few minutes past 11pm, I received a phone call that NPA is on fire. I was surprised then I rushed back to this place. Getting here, every where was on fire, more than 15 speed boats were burnt to ashes. You can see the evidence of what happened.
“This is what really happened, so we plead with the state and local government to assist us. Let them come to our rescue so that we can get out of this problem. We have lost more than 15 speed boats, a lot of houses, stores, were burnt to ashes. They are uncountable,” he lamented.
However, the Warri South Council Chairman, Dr Michael Tidi, has appealed to residents to be extra cautious this dry season to avoid a recurrence.
The council boss made the appeal during an assessment visit to the scene.
While noting that the cause of the fire has not been ascertained, Dr Tidi said investigations are ongoing to unravel the cause of the fire.
He lamented that a lot of property was destroyed in the inferno. He, however, thanked God that no life was lost.
Dr Tidi sympathized with the victims of the fire incident noting that the council is working with various stakeholders to ensure that a recurrence is avoided.
“This is a monumental loss, especially as it concerns the loss of properties. I did not really know the extent of the damage, not until I got here today.
“Seeing these houses, shops, barges and boats completely razed down shows that this is, indeed, devastating.
“These people are known for their industry, they come here early in the morning and even at night they are here and the place is bubbling with activities all the time.
“You hardly see any idle hands here. Those of them in the transport industry, they are always conducting themselves in tandem with the law,” Tidi said.
“So for this to have happened to them is a great loss, not just to them alone, but to the Warri South Local Government.
“And of course, I was in touch with His Excellency, the governor through text messages and he is equally devasted just reading about what happened to them.
“The likely cause of the inferno must be unravelled. So I am using this opportunity to call on the leadership of this area to take a critical look at what caused this incident. We must get to the root of what caused this fire. This is when we can give appropriate advice to the people.
“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to all residents in Warri South Council to be very cautious during this dry season because any little mistake with fire can lead to a fire outbreak.
“The reason why we are not shedding more tears today is that no life was lost. Every life means a lot to every responsible government. His Excellency would have been more devasted if we had lost somebody to this inferno.
“Just some days ago, we all heard what happened at Ubeji, how a tanker burst into flame. Investigations are still ongoing. But preliminary investigation shows that that fire incident could have been avoided.
“Though we have not arrived at a final conclusion, we want to appeal to everybody to be extremely cautious this dry season to avoid fire outbreaks. I rushed back to the shop, I couldn’t pick anything from the shop even a dime.”
By Enaibo Asiayei, Loveth Ojogun & Timi George
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