Traders at the popular main market, Onitsha on tuesday counted millions of loses as their shops located on a two-storey building was on Tuesday morning gutted by fire.
The fire which started around 4.am, affected the building housing Police block, Onitsha North Local Government office, warehouses and shops in main market.
Although, News Echo learnt that the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained, but it was gathered that furniture and other goods worth millions of naira were reportedly burnt following delay by fire fighters.
A trader in the market who identified himself as Cajetan wondered how fire would raze a section of the market housing office of the state fire service.
He said, “The fire started at the White House where lace materials are sold. The place was supposed to be a motor park and an emergency exit but people blocked it with illegal structures through the approval of some government agencies.
“Besides, fire fighters couldn’t come to our rescue immediately even when they have their office in the premises with their truck stationed in front of the building when the fire started.”
Reacting, Chairman of market, Chief Innocent Ezeoha, who said he quickly rushed to the scene following a tip-off, confirmed that goods worth millions of naira were destroyed by the inferno.
He however said the fire would have spread to the entire market if not for intervention of men of fire services from Awka, Asaba, Delta State and good Samaritans who assisted in quelling the fire.
“Damages have been done to the police block, Onitsha North Local Government market office, warehouses, shops, and even fire service office was touched before the arrival of fire fighters from Awka and Asaba,” he added.
Contributing, market Secretary, Comrade Barth Obiorah, decried late arrival of fire fighters, saying it took about two hours before they arrived the scene.
“As at the time of the inferno, fire truck was parked in front of the building but it is not functioning. Even the building housing the office of the fire service was also affected.
State Fire Chief Engr Martin Agbili could not be reached at time of filing the report, but police spokesperson, Tochukwu Ikenga said the situation was being monitored.
“The details are still sketchy but situation is being monitored and firefighters operatives and Police are there. Other details shall be communicated,” he added.