At least 20 shops containing electrical fittings and electronics were completely burnt yesterday when an early morning fire engulfed the multi-million naira Jico Electrical store located in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state.
The fire which reportedly started in the early hours of Saturday, even before the owners and workers in the shop resumed work, was said to have emanated from an electrical fault in one of the affected shops.
Neighbours and passers-by were seen working frantically to extinguish the fire which torched the line of shops where fridges, televisions, sound systems, musical instruments and others were razed.
However, men of the state fire service who though were said to have promptly responded to the emergency, could do nothing to put off the raging inferno as they reportedly complained of lacking chemical additives in their trucks.
But, they were able to prevent the fire from spreading to the entire one story building which housed the over 20 electrical stores reputed to be the largest in the state capital.
John-Paul Igweka, son of the owner of the long line of stores, said they arrived the shop earlier in the morning to see that the store was on fire.
“We came to the shops this morning and discovered that they was on fire, we made efforts to put it out, but couldn’t do anything before we called the fire service.
“Though they came in time and with three trucks but there was nothing they could do as they complained that there were no chemical additives in the water they came with in their trucks. But I must commend them for coming in time.”
He added, “You can see for yourself, it is not what I can quantify , it’s goods worth millions that just got lost, it’s like going back to zero, going back to the village to start all over again”, he said.
Though he did not rule out sabotage, he said the fire may have be ignited by electrical faults, and called on the government to come to their aid.
The President of the Ohaneze Youth Council (OYC), in Bayelsa, Chinedu Authur-Ugwa, who was at the scene to lend support to the shop owners, described the fire incident as shocking and heart-breaking.
“It is very sad. We were informed this morning of the fire incident and on reaching here I was shocked at the level of damage. Goods worth over N300 million have gone. It is very sad, especially in these hard times.
“We can only console him at a time like this and see how we can help him. We call on the state government and other well meaning individuals to help him. You know this kind of thing can lead to heart failure”, he said.