20 March 2014, Lagos – The usual morning traffic snarl in Ikeja, Lagos State was compounded on Wednesday after a tanker laden with 42,000 litres of petrol exploded in front of Mobil Filling Station, Oba Akran/Akilo Roundabout.
According to eyewitnesses, prior to the fire outbreak, there was a traffic congestion in front of the filling station.
The tanker driver was said to have attempted to manoeuvre and gain entry into the filling station when it hit the iron fence of the filling station.
One of its tyres burst and it fell on the iron fence, immediately igniting a fire.
Our correspondent, who visited the area, observed that the fire consumed five other vehicles which were behind the tanker and engulfed a large part of the filling station.
It was learnt that although no life was lost, a bystander sustained burns after an electric pole which had been affected by the fire, fell on him.
A victim, Lawal Babatunde, told PUNCH Metro that his Nissan Serena minibus was completely consumed in the fire.
He said, “Around 6.15am, I was driving to the Nigerian Institute of Journalism for a meeting, but when I got to the end of Oba Akran Road there was a traffic congestion caused by a minor accident.
“As I was still in the traffic, I saw a motorcycle rider shouting ‘petrol fire, petrol fire’. Before I could do anything, the fire had spread to my vehicle.
“I tried to open my door, but it was stuck so I jumped out through the window. Many other motorists also abandoned their vehicles and fled and we stood far off watching our vehicles burn to ashes.”
It was learnt that as the petrol gushed from the tanker into the gutter, the fire spread through the gutters and burnt some underground electric cables.
– The Punch
It was learnt that Guinness Nigeria Plc, which shares a fence with the affected filling station, as well as some residents initially joined hands to tackle the raging inferno.
Our correspondent observed that the incident caused a gridlock up to two kilometres from the scene of the fire through Obafemi Awolowo Way and Adeniyi Jones Avenue.
The police also cordoned off the affected end of Oba Akran Road and motorists were stuck in the traffic for hours.
It was learnt that the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the Lagos State Fire Service, the Federal Fire Service, the National Emergency Management Agency, policemen attached to Area F Command and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps later put out the fire around 7.45am.
However, evacuation of the debris continued till around 2pm.
LASEMA officials, however, said some of the burnt vehicles belonged to drivers who had formed a queue in a bid to buy petrol, which is presently scarce in the country.
The Head of Operations, LASEMA, Mr. Olusegun Magnus-Davies, said, “We received an alert a few minutes after 6am that there was a fire disaster along Oba Akran. We immediately activated an emergency response plan and curtailed the fire. The fire was put out around 7.45am. We have evacuated the burnt vehicles to allow for free flow of traffic.
“No life was lost, but an onlooker was injured after debris fell on him. He had been warned to leave the area previously, but he did not listen.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Abiodun Ajifowobaje, told our correspondent that some parts of Ikeja would experience total blackout because some equipment had been damaged by the fire.
He, however, assured customers that electricity would be restored within 24 hours.
“We have assessed the level of damage and many customers in Ikeja will be affected, but we have started working on it,” he said.
The Dealer of the filling station, Segun Oyegbami, told PUNCH Metro that the actual cause of the fire could not be ascertained.
“There was no queue for fuel as of the time of the incident. The tanker had just arrived and was going to discharge petrol, but I believe that a spark which emanated from the engine of the vehicle behind the tanker caused the fire. Only the canopy of the filling station was affected,” he said.