A late evening fire outbreak on Thursday gutted a three-storey building at 74, Jubilee Road, Aba, Abia State, destroying goods worth more than N35 million.
The fire also gutted a makeshift warehouse at the back of the three storey building with motorcycle spare parts and also burnt the contents of rooms on three floors at the back of the main building.
The News Agency of Nigeria correspondent, who visited the scene of the incident, reports that the three-storey building and other adjoining blocks with their wares were not spared by the inferno.
Donatus Ezenwaka, a victim and motorcycle spare parts dealer at the building, told newsmen on Friday that he was called back at about 11pm to his shop by a neighbour because the building was on fire.
Ezenwaka said: “I came and it was as told me and there was a crowd around here.
“They said the fire began at the shop of a man who sells pure water in the building who has refrigerators in the building.
“According to what I was told, one of the tenants in the building on sighting the fire ran down and called the security guard who began to call other traders who own shops here.
“From the ground floor, the fire rose and entered my own warehouse on first floor at the back.
“We don’t know how the fire started but we suspected that the fire which started in the shop where pure water is sold came from refrigerators that might not have been shut off probably because there was power outage when we closed.
“And when the power returned, it possibly sparked fire which caused the damage.”
Ezenwaka, who showed newsmen his warehouse on first floor, which was still engulfed in smoke, said he lost motorcycle spare parts worth over N20 million.
He begged government and well-meaning Nigerias to come to his aid to enable him to feed his family as he had lost his means of livelihood.
He also urged Aba people to stop destroying public property, including Fire Trucks, which could have helped put out the fire before it destroyed much goods.
NAN reports that the respondent was making reference to a previous incident when a mob destroyed a fire truck that had come to rescue a raging fire but unfortunately ran out of water.
Uchenna Ehirim, Chairman, Old Motorcycles and Tricycle Dealers Association, Azikiwe and Jubilee Road branch, said he got the information on the fire about 11pm and ran down.
He said when he got to the place, the building was all in flames with all the three floors engulfed by fire, including his own shop.
Ehirim said: “So, I asked people who came before me whether they have alerted the fire service department and they said they did, but that all the efforts they made to bring them here failed.
“We are calling on our amiable Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to come to our aid because we have been devastated by this incident.
“We need help from government.”
He said the section of the shops at the back alone lost about N20 million, including cash that some dealers left in their shops.
Ehirim said the dealers were not comfortable being packed within a compact space that they used as shops and warehouses in the area.
He further said they had begun building shops at their main market site at Asa Nnentu, but required funds to complete the project and to move.
The chairman, therefore, appealed to the state government to give them some financial assistance to enable them to complete the project and relocate.