Mkpoikana Udoma 31 March 2015, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – A 33,000-litre fuel tanker went up in flames Tuesday in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, burning 8 vehicles beyond repair.
The fire incident, which occurred at a sharp corner directly in front of the popular Acania Hotels and Bar along Ada-George Road, occurred at about 12:30pm and lasted for more than two hours before it could be successfully put off.
The conflagration caught up with eight other vehicles, including two fairly-used cars displayed for sale in front of the hotel, as well as four other cars parked inside the hotel and two others parked outside a mechanic workshop beside the hotel.
Eye-witnesses said the driver of the tanker, which was moving on top speed from the Agip Road towards Location Road, lost control of the vehicle, which skidded off the road at the sharp bend, falling on its side, and spilling its content on the tarred road before going up in flames.
A witness, who gave his name as John Okenna, said the truck driver sustained serious injury while the truck-conductor was pulled out of the vehicle before a big explosion occurred and the whole place went up in fire.
“Passers-by had to jump through the fence of the hotel and bar to help the workers to put out the fire which was fast spreading into other areas, even as the fuel running through the drainage had caught fire, throwing up spasms of explosions..
“Relief came when the fire fighters arrived at 1:05pm with three loaded water-tankers and immediately swooped into action, spraying water into the burning vehicles and the main building of the hotel, which had also caught fire,” he said.
Also commenting on the incident, another eye-witness who spoke on the condition of anonymity blamed the fuel tanker driver for over speeding, and also pointed accusing fingers at the construction engineers who handled the structural works of the dualised Ada George Road over the incident.
He said: “The bend at which the incident occurred was too sharp and had been witnessing series of accidents, with more than seven, including one other fuel-tanker, occurring within the last four months.
“But for the efforts of the fire fighters and sympathisers who were at the scene, some big and newly constructed buildings would have also been affected by the fire.”
He further explained that efforts of the Rivers State Fire Service was complemented by the oil giant, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, as one of its water-tankers arrived the scene shortly after the fire started.
As at 4:00pm when SweetCrudeReports visited the scene, the fire was still smothering.