17 February 2017, Awka – A tanker fire has destroyed no fewer than 10 houses and 30 vehicles near Dennis Memorial Grammar School in Onitsha, Anambra State.
However, the statues of a former President of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, near the scene of the fire, was not torched, while virtually every standing object near the statue was burnt in the Wednesday fire.
Commercial activities were grounded in the city on Thursday following the fire.
Vehicular movements were obstructed on the Upper New Market and Oguta roads through the DMGS areas.
Soldiers, naval officials, policemen, men of the Federal Road Safety Corps, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps personnel cordoned off the roads around the scene of the fire.
Our correspondent counted eight trucks among the vehicles that were destroyed.
An eyewitness said the fire started at about 9.30pm on Wednesday after a fuel-laden tanker, which was negotiating a bend at the DMGS junction near a filling station, fell.
According to the eyewitness, fuel from the tanker flowed down the road through a drainage channel, leading to the spread of the fire.
The source said the inferno affected part of a popular building, known as Kamo Plaza, where two banks have offices, adding that a minimal damage was done.
Mrs. Chinelo Onyeuna, a victim and Manager of Bencash Investment Nigeria Limited, a company dealing in electronics and furniture, said she lost items worth N100m to the inferno.
“Just look at our plaza now, it has burnt down. Government should stop people operating filling stations near residential buildings,” Onyeuna said.
She appealed for assistance from the state government to cushion the effect of the fire.
Another victim, Mrs. Juana Oboli, told the News Agency of Nigeria that she lost her residential building, which she laboured for 12 years to build.
Oboli, a widow and civil servant with the Nigerian Prisons Service, also urged the state government to help her recover from her loss.
“I struggled for more than 12 years to complete the house after I lost my husband; I want government to intervene because I don’t have anybody else to help me,” Oboli said.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Nkeiruka Nwode, said, “Five houses were burnt, while about 15 vehicles and five tricycles were destroyed.”
The Executive Director of the State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Paul Odenigbo, said, “The incident happened about 8pm. About 13 houses, 10 vehicles, three tricycles and three filling stations – Mobil, MRS and Total – were affected by the fire.”
The Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, who visited the scene of the incident, said a panel of inquiry would be set up to look into the disaster, adding that the Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe, would head the panel .
The governor said the state government would take care of those who sustained injuries.
Others who visited the scene were the Anglican Bishop of the Niger, Most Rev. Owen Nwokolo, three governorship aspirants in the state – Godwin Ezeemo; Oseloka Obaze; and Alex Obiogbolu.
They called on the government to help the affected people.