A policeman was killed when the front section of a three-storey building gutted by fire on Lagos Island partially collapsed on Tuesday.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, Area “A” Command, Bode Ojajuni, identified the dead policeman as Sgt. Michael Dominic.
The structure located on 43 Martins Street, according to eyewitness, gave way at about 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday as firemen and other emergency responders intensified efforts to extinguish the inferno. The officer was said to be controlling the surging crowd when an air conditioner and concrete slabs landed on his head. Medics made frantic efforts to rush him to the hospital.
Confirming the death, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Public Relations Officer, Nosa Okunbor, described it as unfortunate. He said the portion that collapsed was weakened by the fire. He also disclosed that the building presently poses public danger and all the perimeters cordoned off to avoid further fatality.
Also, Special Adviser to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Lagos Central Business District, Olanrewaju Elegushi, said the policeman died in the hospital. He assured traders the state would soon provide fire hydrants in the area to enable the servicemen have access to water.
Even though the fire has been extinguished and excavation of debris ongoing, smoke still smoulders from the burnt building.
A combined team of fire servicemen from Lagos Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, Julius Berger, UBA and Union Bank were at Martins Street battling to extinguish the fire.
Amid the slabs and twisted metals, were mounds of scorched expensive lace materials, shoes, suitcases and school bags, all goods of traders that occupied what used to be 43 Martins Street. Gloomily, they watched as the humming excavator, consistently plunged into the smoking building, gradually levelling it to ground zero.
“What we have lost here is unquantifiable,” lamented Ignatius Obi, chairman of shopping complex.
He disclosed several victims of the inferno had just received delivery of their goods, adding that most of them refused to come and see what is left of their investments.
He, however, appealed to Governor Sanwo-Olu to financially assist the traders as most of them lost everything they have laboured to build over the years.
The traders alleged the fire was caused by a generating set powering the landlady’s apartment
They disclosed that when they noticed smoke coming from the pent house, they alerted the landlady’s son but he dismissed them, saying it was nothing to worry about.
They also disclosed that the fire was an annual event, which they usually experience, adding that it was quite unfortunate they could not battle the flames before it wrecked so much damage.
Earlier, Sanwo-Olu, who visited the scene of the fire and commiserated with victims, described it as unfortunate, even as he noted that they were lessons learnt on why it was dangerous to keep highly inflammable substances in building.
He also warned residents to desist from storing combustible materials like generator and petroleum products on penthouses and rooftops.
Sanwo-Olu thanked residents and business owners in the market for their support and cooperation in battling the fire.
He, however, appealed to them to give way so that emergency responders can carry out their work effectively as well as avoid further fatalities.
Meanwhile, police said they have arrested 12 suspected miscreants for stealing at the scene of a fire .
Speaking to newsmen Ojajuni said: “We have hoodlums and miscreants who took advantage of the situation to steal and we arrested 12 people, who are now in detention.’’