From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
A mysterious fire has rendered an 85-year-old widow, Mrs. Roseline Okafor Ohachi, of Ukunu village in Agulu, Anaocha Local Government Area (LGA) of Ananmbra State, homeless. The inferno completely burnt down the building, leaving nothing to be salvaged. The widow watched helplessly as her house and the property went up in flames.
It was gathered that the incident occurred at about 10am on March 29. It destroyed the 10-room apartment with cash and property worth N100 million. It was said to have been caused by a spark from electricity surge when power was restored in the area that morning.
The fire was said to have destroyed household property, hard currency owned by her son in Onitsha, books, sacramental and other valuables kept in the house by a Revered Father son of the widow, who had embarked on a missionary journey to the Republic of Chad.
Madam Ohachi, the only person in the house when the fire started, was said to have fainted when she saw her family’s property burnt to ashes.
She was at the time of filing in this story recuperating from the shock at her son’s place in Onitsha.
Recounting how the incident happened, she told Daily Sun that she heard a sound after which smoke engulfed the entire building.
“So, when I heard the sound in one of the rooms that morning, I thought something fell from up. I quickly went out to look around to know what it was. To my greatest shock, I saw smoke everywhere.
“As an old woman, I could not do anything but I shouted for help. A few of our neighbours came, but they could not do anything because some of the rooms were locked. The fire continued raging, and I was just there watching my property and my children’s property being destroyed by the fire. They tried to save some property but they could not. The neighbours brought a water tanker and tried to stop the fire, but all to no avail.
“After some time, the state firefighting officials arrived but it was too late as the entire house had been razed and no pin was removed from the house. I’m in my son’s house in Onitsha with only the cloth I wore before the fire, likewise my house help, because the fire burnt all our clothes and everything we had. I want good-spirited individuals, corporate organisations and the state government to come to my aid,” she pleaded.
The widow’s son, Mr. Hyacinth Okafor Ohachi. said the building was where the entire family members lived, adding that he lost the foreign currency he kept in the house in case of any emergency at home.
Mr. Ohachi appealed to government to assist his family by providing them with shelter, clothes, food and cash to continue with life. He explained that the walls of the house were burnt and could not be mended, but needed outright rebuilding. He lamented that there was no way his family would raise money at this hard time in the country to build another home.
“I was in Onitsha where I run my business when they called me from the village and told me about the fire incident at our family house. So, I rushed home immediately. When I got home, they told me that the fire was caused by electricity surge. My mother was the only person at home when the fire started; my elder brother had gone to church for the part of Easter celebration exercise.
“The people who came to stop fire first hired a water tanker but after some time the water finished. They started calling fire service but before they came everything in the house had burnt to ashes. Many villagers were not around to fight the fire because some went to church, while others went to Afor market.
“As it is now, we have been rendered homeless; nothing was removed from the house. My mother, my elder brother and our house help are wearing the clothes they wore before the fire incident. The fire even burnt the walls of the house. My brother Revered Father Innocent Joseph Mary’s room was burnt to ashes. All his books, sacramentals and clothes were burnt completely; nothing was rescued because the room was locked.
“The house burnt because there was no timely formidable rescue team. Most of the villagers were not around to rescue some of the property. My mother fainted and was taken out of the village due to the shock. We are calling on individuals, groups and government to help us with food and money to build another house.
“Items destroyed include upholstery, six deep freezers, generating sets, hard currency, property of my brother who returned home from Cross River State two years ago burnt. My brothers’ money, my mother’s money, which I cannot give account of how much, were all burnt. All our clothes, documents and certificates were burnt,” he said.
Another family member, Anthony Okafor Ohachi, bemoaned the difficulty the fire incident has plunged the family into, especially himself, as he just came back from Cross River where he was last two years with a lorryload of his property, which has been destroyed by the fire.
“I was in the church for Chrism mass when I was contacted that our house was on fire. When I got home, the fire was raging. Due to the condition of my leg I could not do much to force open some rooms that were locked. Some people around tried to save some property but it was a wasted effort.
“In all, I thank God for my mother’s life. She was at home when the fire started. I am happy because fire did not touch her. Though we lost all our property, thank God that nobody died.
“We believe God that somebody will help us to come out of this ugly situation,” he said.