Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
Traders at the popular Balogun Market in Lagos Island are counting their losses as an early morning inferno raged across the busy commercial district.
The market, which is one of the busiest and biggest in the state, had suffered a similar disaster November last year.
The latest fire incident comes barely five days after a fire outbreak at another popular market, the Amu Timber Market, in Mushin, where traders also lost millions of naira worth of goods and property.
As at the time of filing this report (5:30 pm), many traders are struggling to salvage their goods from the burning buildings.
Buildings housing many shops caught fire which broke out from Anambra Plaza at Martins Street beside Great Nigeria Limited, near Leventis Bus Stop, Lagos Island, around 9.00 am.
The inferno, according to witnesses, further spread to adjoining buildings in the highly-congested area, affecting about seven structures.
Regarding the cause of the inferno, one of the Market’s leaders, Chibike Okeke, faulted the claim of the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, that the fire outbreak was caused by fuel stored inappropriately in one of the stores.
Okeke, while reacting to the alleged claim by LASEMA boss on the incident, said nobody could currently ascertain the cause of the inferno, adding that the government official’s claim was only based on mere speculation.
Oke-Osanyintolu had disclosed that seven buildings were affected by the inferno.
The DG/CEO said: “On arrival at the above scene, it was discovered that a four-storey plaza had been gutted by fire.
“The cause was identified as resulting from improperly-stored fuel. The fire had escalated to adjoining buildings totalling seven in number. But it is now being contained by the emergency responders comprising Lagos State Government Fire Service, the Federal Fire Service and NPA Fire Service.”
He assured that all responders were on ground and progress was being made to put out the raging fire.
He urged traders and other members of the public to be calm.
LASEMA spokesperson Mr Nosa Okunbor said that the swift response of the emergency team and the cooperation of other responders prevented the inferno from causing further damage.
As a result of the collapse of buildings at the scene, three people, which included a member of Nigeria Red Cross, a firefighter and a trader, sustained minor injuries, but there has been no reported loss of life.