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Breaking! Fire Outbreak Rocks Awka Again, Razes Shops, Goods

By Izunna Okafor
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Residents of Awka, the capital city of Anambra State were thrown into shocked as fire razed down shops and destroys goods worth millions of Naira in early hours of today.

The fire outbreak which started around 6:15 am happened along the Oby Okoli Avenue, by Club Road Junction (formerly Abakaliki Street) Awka.

Arriving the scene, our correspondent observed that officers of the Anambra State Fire Service were already on ground, assisting in quenching the fire, while the men of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), and the Nigerian Police Force (led by Emmanuel Ogbuanya, the DPO, B Division, Awka) were also on duty, controlling the traffic and intervening in other relevant ways.

Speaking to newsmen, the Anambra State Sector Commander, FRSC, Corps Commander Andrew Kumapayi said he received a distress call concerning the incident and he then quickly mobilized his men to the scene, and also alerted the Fire Service, the joint effort of whom, he confirmed, helped to bring the situation under control.

Commander Kumapayi who disclosed that the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, said he however suspected that it could be linked to electrical malfunctioning, spark or power surge, as there was light as at the time the incident started. This, he said, would be confirmed, pending further investigation.

He further cautioned the public against leaving their electrical appliances on while not in use, and urged them to procure and always keep fire extinguishers ready in their homes, shops and offices, incase of any fire outbreak.

He said, "We are in dry season, and so it is advisable for everyone to be very cautious, ensure that they put off all their electrical appliances when not in use, and to have their fire extinguisher ready and available in their shops, offices and houses at all times, incase of any fire outbreak or other such emergencies."

On his own part, the Officer in Charge of Fire Risk Reduction and Education, Anambra State Fire Service, Mr. Chukwuemeka Akpagu said the prompt intervention of their men helped to reduce the extent of damages caused by the fire, as it was prevented from escalating to other shops.

While consoling the victims whose shops were affected by the fire, Mr. Akpagu further dosed out some fire safety tips to the teeming spectators, and urged them to always notify the Fire Service on time whenever there is incidence of fire outbreak, as the Service is always available and absolutely free for them.

Some of the victims, including Mr. Chidiebere Odina (provisions seller), Miss Onwe Gift Onyinyechi (hair dresser) and Mr. Ugonna Matthew lamented their ordeal and described the incident as shocking and unfortunate, even as they called on the government, private organisations and other tenderhearted individuals to come to their assistance, as they were all breadwinners in their respective families who just began their new year hustle few weeks ago until the misfortune befell them.

Baring his mind, one of the eyewitnesses, Hon. Ayiba Kenneth Ejike who also assisted in quenching the fire, said the cause cannot be unconnected with electric spark, as electric wires roughly and haggardly twisted on a very nearby pole by the men of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) usually sparks whenever there is light.

Another eyewitnesse who pleaded anonymity, however, said that she saw a group of three young boys pouring substance suspected to be Premium Motor Spirit (fuel) around one of the shops when she was passing early in morning, only for her to come back 20 minutes later and see that the whole shop was on fire.

Though no casualty was recorded, the early Monday morning fire consummately razed down a total of four shops, with goods and other items worth millions of Naira.