There was panic at the Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit, Ikeja, Lagos, on Thursday after fire broke out at the agency’s warehouse.
PUNCH Metro learnt that 20 vehicles, consisting of six articulated vehicles, 12 cars and two minibuses, were consumed by the fire.
The intervention of firefighters from the Lagos State Fire Service and men of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency was said to have curtailed the spread of the fire.
The exact cause of the fire, which started around 2pm, could not be ascertained as of press time, as there were conflicting accounts of what started it.
While authorities at the customs service said the fire started after the gas cylinder of an impounded truck exploded, one of the emergency workers said it was caused by bush burning.
The fire was said to have quickly spread to vehicles in the warehouse before the firefighters intervened.
The spokesperson for the NCS, FOU Ikeja, Jerry Attah, said three vehicles were burnt, adding that no life was lost or injury sustained.
He said, “A section of the constructed annex warehouse was gutted by fire. It is not our main warehouse. There were two trucks that had been there for a long time. The trucks had gas cylinders which usually come with them. The fact that they had been there for a long time, coupled with the heat of the season, made one of them to explode. When it exploded, the fire spread. But we called in the state fire service and LASEMA. The fire was put out at 3pm. Only one truck and two cars were burnt.”
However, one of the emergency workers at the scene said the fire started due to bush burning activities around the place where the vehicles were parked.
He said, “We discovered that some people were burning bush around the warehouse and that was what started the inferno. No life was lost and no injury sustained.”
The Director of the state fire service, Rasak Fadipe, said the agency deployed three water trucks from the Alausa, Ikeja and Ilupeju fire stations.
He said, “When we received the alert, we activated our emergency response plan and deployed firefighters in the scene. We had seen the fire from our office and with the support of our sister agency, LASEMA, we did not allow the fire to go beyond where we met it.
“The fire, however, destroyed six articulated vehicles, 12 cars and two minibuses. There were many vehicles in the warehouse. We worked tirelessly to prevent the fire from spreading to other vehicles. If not for our prompt response, the damage would have been more.”
The General Manager of LASEMA, Adeshina Tiamiyu, said the agency’s officials joined in putting out the fire, adding that 18 vehicles – 12 cars and six trucks – were gutted by fire.
Tiamiyu noted that LASEMA would work with the customs service to investigate the cause of the fire to forestall a recurrence.
In another incident, property estimated at millions of naira was lost after fire razed four shops on Owerri Road, Enugu.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the fire, which began around 12.15pm raged till about 12.50pm.
According to sources, residents came out in their numbers to help firefighters to put out the fire.
Mrs. Sophia Mansour, who owned a restaurant in front of the building, said a heavy smoke, that was followed by fire, came out from one of the rooms at the back of the building.
“I saw smoke that was followed by fire coming out from a vacated room at the back of the building. I raised the alarm but before the intervention of the firefighers, the fire had spread to other rooms,’’ she said.
Another eyewitness, Mr. Tochukwu Ukweja, said he and his friends noticed the inferno while relaxing in a shop in front of the building.
“All the property in the house was burnt and no single room was spared. If not for the intervention of the firefighters, the fire would have caused more damage,’’ Ukweja said.
He said a hairdressing saloon, a cleaners, a beer parlour and a pool office were razed by the inferno.