By Harrison Arubu
Fire on Thursday broke out at the Building Materials Market in Lugbe Abuja, razing down many shops, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
The popular market is adjacent to the Federal Housing Estate, Lugbe, on Airport Road in the nation’s capital.
The financial worth of building materials destroyed in the inferno had not been officially ascertained as at the time of filing this report but some traders put it at N90 million.
Mr Christian Ihejirika, an eyewitness who said his brother’s shop was affected, told NAN that the fire started in a foam shop at about 2.30 p.m.
“A man who just rented a shop here brought a welder to do some work in his shop, which is close to a foam shop.
“People told the welder not to weld close to foam, which is highly inflammable but he ignored them and continued.
“Minutes afterwards, people started shouting, ‘Fire! Fire! Before we could do anything, the fire spread and went out of control. We could not savage anything.’’
He said that men of the FCT fire service arrived the scene about an hour after the fire started, but ran out of water and had to call for reinforcement.
According to him, the backup did not come early.
One of the affected traders, Mr Livinus Nwachukwu, corroborated Ihejirika’s account of how the fire started.
Nwachukwu, who deals on wheelbarrows, shovels, head pans, water hoses and other building materials, estimated his loss at N20 million.
The Men of the fire service were still battling the smouldering rubbles when NAN visited the scene at about 6 p.m., while some of the traders were seen salvaging their wares.
Mr Ebenezer Elekwa, the Divisional Fire Officer at the National Judicial Institute (NJI) Fire Station, close to the market, confirmed the incident.
Elekwa said the service was not informed of the outbreak on time hence the late arrival of his men.
“The notion of the general public is always that fire service personnel normally arrive late at scenes of outbreaks like this.
He said, “If you ask all the shop owners here now how many of them have our emergency number, I bet you none has it.
“Firefighting is about time; when you call us on time, a lot of property can be salvaged otherwise you lose a lot as we have seen here.’’