By Job Osazuwa, Chizoba Ikenwa and Vera Wisdom-Bassey
Goods and equipment worth millions of naira were destroyed yesterday in Lagos, as a section of the Nigerian Breweries Plc plant in Iganmu, Lagos, was gutted by fire.
According to an eyewitness, the fire started around 5am and raged uncontrollably for about 10 hours.
There was also an inferno at the Kara Market, near Berger in Ogun State on Christmas Day. No deaths or injuries were recorded at the scene, however, even though dozens of makeshift stalls were completely razed.
A young man, who didn’t disclose his name, told Daily Sun that the fire at the Nigerian Breweries plant started from one of the generator rooms on the premises.
Another eyewitness claimed that the fire started from the company’s warehouse. It was gathered that all efforts by the staff on duty to put out the blaze proved abortive.
When Daily Sun visited the scene, the Lagos State Fire Service and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) worked feverishly to fight the fire and stop it from spreading to other buildings. Also at the scene were members of the Nigerian Red Cross Society.
It was gathered that initial efforts by the firefighters failed, as the fire spread and partly affected another section of the company.
However, no life was lost, although three men that were helping with rescue operations were carried out of the scene by the Nigerian Red Cross on stretchers. It couldn’t be ascertained whether they were staff of Nigerian Breweries, officials of the emergency rescue teams on ground or sympathisers.
The company’s Corporate Affairs Adviser, Mr. Kufre Ekanem, confirmed that there was no casualty recorded and the fire was brought under control in the late afternoon with the help of fire fighters.
He disclosed that the fire destroyed plastic crates used in storing liquids.
As Lagos residents celebrated Christmas, the company was busy counting its losses. Thousands of crates of assorted drinks were allegedly destroyed in the inferno.
Ekanem said the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained, at the time of filing this report.
A young man at the scene told Daily Sun that one of the company’s workers confided in him that the inferno was as a result of a leakage in the pumping machine used in the factory.
Also, the South-West spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, affirmed that there was no casualty recorded.
The Director of Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Rasaq Fadipe, told Daily Sun that his men swiftly arrived at the scene after receiving the distress call. According to him, the timely intervention of fire fighters prevented the inferno from spreading to other parts of the company and the entire neighbourhood.
His words: “It was a massive fire that could have caused a lot of havoc. But we thank God that there was no life lost and the damage was not more than that. The nearby companies and houses were not affected because of the quick intervention of our men.”
A statement was later released by Ekanem for Nigerian Breweries, saying: “There was a fire outbreak today at the empty bottle compound of the Lagos plant of Nigerian Breweries Plc in Iganmu, Lagos.
“The fire, which started early in the morning, has been put under control by men of the Lagos State Fire Service supported by the brewery fire team and other nearby corporate organisations.
“There were no injuries or fatalities arising from the fire. Only empty bottles, plastic crates and some sections of the bottle holding bay were impacted by the fire. Brewery operations were not disrupted by the incidence.
“We thank all stakeholders who have called to clarify or support the Lagos brewery at this time.”