Christopher Oji, Adewale Sanyaolu and Romanus Okoye
Fire yesterday burnt Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) filling station on Yaya Abato Street in Ogba, Lagos State. The fire, which burnt a petroleum tanker and over 10 vehicles, also affected one-storey building housing Maranada Stores, Springboard Kiddies Collections and Potent Medicals. The filling station has a cooking gas shop closeby and surrounded by residential homes and shops.
A witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Daily Sun that the fire was caused by electrical fault while a tanker was discharging diesel. According him, the fire may have been put out if the fire-fighter tanks had come with enough water. He said: “The first two tankers of the Lagos State Fire Service came without water. They had to call the Federal Fire Service, which later came with water. Before then, the fire had entered the underground tanker. The only thing that delayed the fire from spreading rapidly was that it was not fuel but diesel.”
Mr. Obodoechi Darlington, who lives around the vicinity, blamed the government for not taking proactive measures. He said: “It shows how careless our government could be. How could they allow filling station in a highly populated place like this. Apart from that, how can the fire-fighter tank in Lagos not have water when many parts of Lagos is below the sea level and has lots of water. The truth is that our government does not prepare for eventualities. That is exactly what we are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. How can you tell people to stay at home without palliatives? It is unfortunate that properties have been lost and businesses lots.
The owner of Springboard Kiddies Collections, Mr. Adeyinka Adenugba, who lives at Akute area of Lagos, told Daily Sun that when he heard about the incident on Radio, he rushed and prayed that the fire would spare his shop. “I called the name of Pastor T.B. Joshua because I believe strongly in his message and was happy when the fire started going down. I pray it will not go beyond this level,” he said.
Another witness, John Udom, who lives near the filling station, said: “The fire started from a car shop sharing fence with the station. We are suspecting electrical fault. We tried to salvage some cars, but it was unfortunate that a truck was discharging fuel at that particular time. Eight cars were completely burnt. These are expensive cars.”
Men of Lagos State Fire Service, National Petroleum Investment Management Service, the police and LASEMA were still working frantically to put out the fire as at the time of filing this report. The Director-General (DG), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said: “A tanker inside the NNPC filling station, which caught fire caused the fire. Efforts are ongoing by the agency’s officials led by the DG/CEO and men of the Lagos State Fire Service and the Federal Fire Service to combat the inferno.
When contacted, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Dr.Kennie Obateru, said investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the inferno was ongoing.
‘‘It is an unfortunate incident. But like every fire disaster, investigation must be launched and that has started.’’
Obateru said the filling station was one of its affiliated retail outlets, adding that its subsidiary, NNPC Retail Limited was already in discussion with the franchise holder under its rule of engagement.
On whether the filling station could have compromised safety standards, the NNPC spokesman said the regulator-Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) would not license any filling station that fails to comply with minimum safety requirement.