Residents ofÂ the Abule Egba area of Lagos have lamented their loss after a raging fire, which also affected some parts of Agege, destroyed about 100 buildings including shops on Wednesday.
Although no life was lost, over 50 vehicles were completely razed.
Usman Hamzat, a car dealer, said the fire started at about 2am and at the time he got to his car port only two cars were on fire but the late response of the Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA) made him loose the rest of the cars.
Aside Hamzat’s, cars parked at Samar Petroleum also were razed.
Newsbreak.ng gathered that the fire, which started in front of a private school at 4, Segun Akinola Street, opposite Tiper Garage, near Awori Bus stop, was said to have been triggered by activities of vandals, who brought in three tankers to syphon Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
About five persons including a widow, Ruth Joseph and her son Samuel sustained injuries.
Edgal Imohimi, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, ordered that the widow and all other victims injured in the inferno be taken to Ikeja general hospital for proper treatment on the police account.
According to residents, the vandals who dug a hole to connect their hoses to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines had dropped them in the gutter without shutting the valves.
One Junaid Oladipupo said it was exactly 12 years a similar incident happened and the government are doing nothing about it.
She said: “The vandals came with three tankers, the police and other security must have been involved for them to be able to carry out such act with any interception.
“Is it until they kill us all before the government will do something about the bunkery? I know that a mechanic or carpenter can’t carry out such act, some of these stakeholders are involved in this”
A shop owner Alimat Lawal, in tears said her drink shop work over N1.5 million was burnt to ashes before she could get to the scene.
“I borrowed money to stock my shop for the season, see what fire has done to my shop. How do I pay back the money I borrowed? The government should please do something about the vandals and also the affected victims.”
Areas affected by the inferno included Arowolo Street, Shogbawole, Adefegba, Katonwi, Santos, Taiwo Adewole, Wamon Taofeek, Owode, Akinlere streets.
Also affected are Justrite Shopping mall, Samar Filling Station all the way to the canal near Agege Abbattoir.
Others include Charity Road Junction opposite Oko Oba Market and parts of Ile-Epo.
The residents also accused fire service of late arrival to the scene, noting that emergency responders got there around 4am.
Imohimi, who led journalist to the scene of the incident, accused the residents of complicity, adding that they cannot claim they were not aware of activities of vandals in the area.
He told them to be thankful that the fuel passed through the gutter which cushioned the severity, noting that it could have been worse.
“However, intelligence report gathered by some of my operatives revealed that this area is notorious for activities of pipeline vandals.
“While I am not confirming, I would not completely rule out that this fire was attempt by some vandals to puncture some of the pipelines, so our investigation is also going to extend in that direction.
Also at the scene areÂ General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Adesina Tiamiyu, officials from NNPC and other agencies.
According to Tiamiyu, the fire affected nine streets, destroyed 38 vehicles, four tricycles, 71 shops, 30 rooms, two blocks of flat and a Â church auditorium.
“LASEMA and other stakeholders responded to the fire outbreak which occurred as a result of the activities of suspected bunkerers around the NNPC pipeline in Abule Egba, Ojokoro Local Council Development Area (LCDA) which destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
“No fatality was recorded and the few people injured were immediately administered to by the Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS) and the agency’s paramedics.
“The incident occurred at about 2am on Wednesday. On arrival at the incident scene, the spillage from the bunkering activities came in contact with an ignitable source. The impact resulted in inferno as it ravaged several houses and cars.”