Traders at Ekpoma main market in Edo State lost millions of naira as fire burnt over 10 shops on Sunday morning.
One of the traders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated the loss could have been more if not for the efforts of people who lived near the market who trooped out to put out the fire. She stated that the fire started from a wire in one of the shops which caught fire when electricity was restored.
She said, “The fire started at about 10.45am when a wire sparked after electricity was restored. More traders were saved from incurring huge financial loses as neighbours trooped out to put out the fire.
“As a trader in the market, I commend the efforts of neighbours who came out to put out the fire. The loss could have been more. However, 10 shops with goods worth millions were lost because most of the traders just bought them to sell during the festive period,” she added.
However, a lecturer at the Ambrose Ali University, Prof. Jude Obasanmi, said it was disheartening that there was no presence of fire service, wondering why Benin city is the only place where the fire service operates.
Giving his account of the incident, Obasanmi said a lady in the market who came to make some sales set some refuse on fire and left which spread to the shops and burnt them.
He said, “A lady came to her shop around Aburime Street to make some sales. After some sales, she gathered some refuse and started burning them. She did not wait to see the end but left and the fire spread to other areas.
When our correspondent called the control room of the Edo State Fire Service for the cause of the fire and efforts done to put if off, an officer gave the reporter a number of another officer in Ekpoma. Several attempts to speak to the officer proved abortive as the number was switched off.
It was, however, gathered that only one fire fighting truck is available in the state and it is stationed at Ring Road, Benin.