30 September 2015, Umuahia – For property owners and residents of buildings on Aba-Owerri road that was recently gutted by fire sparked by fuel tanker explosion, life will never be the same, at least for now as some of them lost their lives’ savings during the incident.
At least few residential buildings, 14 shops and about seven vehicles, as well as four tricycles, among other things, were destroyed by the inferno, leaving the owners devastated. Altogether, the fire consumed property, goods and other valuables worth several millions of Naira.
The ugly fate befell them when a tanker laden with diesel, fell and caught fire. The truck, which also got burnt beyond repair, was said to be entering a fuel station on the busy Aba-Owerri road to discharge the diesel when the tank of the truck pulled off and fell on the median of the road, discharging its contents which consequently caught fire on the road.
Cause of the inferno
South East Voice gathered that the actual crisis set in when a commercial driver ignored warnings by onlookers and residents of the area not to pass through the spilled inflammable contents. As he was driving through the spilled liquid, the hot smoky exhaust pipe of the commercial bus ignited the fire which caused the havoc.
“We made efforts to stop oncoming vehicles to avert the impending danger. But a commercial driver refused to stop and tried to drive through the spill. We suspected that the heat from the exhaust pipe ignited the fire and before we knew what was happening, everywhere was in flame. The rage of the fire was so fierce that some of us had to run for safety until the Abia State fire service men arrived the scene,” an eye witness lamented.
No life was lost
A resident of one of the affected buildings, Emmanuel Kingsley thanked God for sparing the lives of his brothers and other members of his family. He described the fire incident as one of the horrific experiences he had had in recent times.
A man who lost his car to the inferno, Rev. Alfred Okeke, said he parked it by the roadside to buy feed for his livestock shortly before the incident.
Efforts by fire service, FRSC: Eye-witness accounts said that the efforts of men of the Abia State Fire Service who battled to put off the fire and personnel of the Aba State command of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, prevented the fire from escalating . Again, the situation would have been worse if the spilled content was petrol.
Victims ofthe inferno
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who was outside the country when the incident happened, dispatched his deputy, Ude Oko Chukwu and Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Eme Okoro, to the scene .
And on his return last week, he invited some the victims of the inferno to Government House, Umuahia, where he lamented the unfortunate incident even as he thanked God that no life was lost. He, however, directed his Chief of Staff, Chijioke Nwakodo to take stock of the damages to enable him extend some financial assistance to the victims.