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‘How over 200 shops were gutted in Port Harcourt fire incident’



By Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt

Shops with goods worth millions of naira were gutted in a fire incident at the popular Ojoto market, Azikiwe/Ojoto roundabout, Mile 2 Diobu, Port Harcourt on Thursday night.

It was learnt that the fire incident occurred after the market has shut down for the day and the traders have gone home.

Speaking on the incident, the Chairman of the market association, Sir Arinze Akupue, in telephone interview, said he was in his house when at about few minutes to 10pm security personnel in the market called him that there is fire coming out of the market.

Mr Akupue said he called some people around the market to assist to put out the fire, while he drove to office of the state fire service to seek their assistance.

But he said at the state fire service office, he was advised to go to Federal Secretariat to inform the Federal fire Service as they cannot assist him.

Mr Akupue disclosed that he drove to the Federal Secretariat where he informed the Federal Fire service and their Commander, and they followed him to the scene.

The Chairman of the market explained that about 85 per cent of the shops at the market have been burnt before the arrival of the fire service personnel.

He added that hoodlums also attacked the personnel of the fire service in order to create a confusing atmosphere so that they can loot properties.

According to him, it took the intervention of the Azikiwe Divisional Police headquarters to rescue the personnel of fire service, while the fire completely razed the market.

He said over two hundred shops were burnt down with the owners not able to pick anything from their shops.

Akupue revealed that three of his own shops were also gutted by the fire and he was not able to bring out anything.

He dismissed the insinuation that people cooking in the market were responsible for the fire incident.

Mr Akupue, however, called on the state Government to come to their aid and provide succour to the victims of the incident.

Our Correspondent reports that consistently the Rivers State Fire Service has not been responding to fire disasters because of either faulty vehicles or underfunding.

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