One dies as fire guts building in Lagos

By Evelyn Usman
LAGOS — A building located in Olodi-Apapa area of Lagos State was, weekend, engulfed by fire, burning one of the occupants to death and injuring others.

Following the incident, aggrieved youths reportedly attacked fire servicemen who later arrived the scene to put out the raging fire,  accusing them of arriving late.

The cause of the inferno could not be ascertained, but report said it started from one of the apartments in the affected building located on 19,  Agbe Street at about 5a.m.

Vanguard gathered that occupants who were jolted from sleep managed to escape with minor bruises,with some of them managing to salvage some property.

In the ensuing stampede, one of the occupants identified simply as Eze, reportedly rushed in to get some of his property. But he was reportedly electrocuted immediately he entered his apartment  as power was  restored.

Fire servicemen were said to have arrived the scene at about 7.30a.m and immediately concentrated at the base of the building with a view to putting out the fire.

But the street boys said to have been battling to put out the raging fire, allegedly insisted they (fire servicemen) concentrated rather at the top, a situation that reportedly led to the attack of the fire servicemen.

The charred remains of Eze was reportedly discovered after the fire was put out. Vanguard gathered that when the body was taken to the mortuary, it was rejected as the hospital management demanded police report.

Confirming the incident, Deputy Police Public Relations Officer, Damacus Ozoani, said  the fire was eventually put out by the combined  efforts of  policemen from Tolu division  and other rescue operatives.

Describing the attack on the fire servicemen as one too many,  the South-West  Information Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency,NEMA, Mr  Ibrahim Farinloye, said: “The boys struggled to collect the fire hose and attacked the professional firemen in the process. It was discovered that effort to locate water hydrant for refilling the water tanker of the fire appliance did not yield any fruit.”

“This, assault on firemen, is making the third assault on the men of fire service in  three  weeks; at Ketu plank market, a fireman was critically wounded and was admitted, similarly, at the Alade Market, the street boys destroyed the firefighting instrument while trying to take over the fire fighting from the Firemen.

The refusal of Lagosians to allow emergency workers have free access to disaster scenes for prompt response is getting complicated and the problem of crowd milling around disaster scenes made intervention difficult and uncontrollable yesterday

Public and private motorists are compounding the situation by ignoring the emergency vehicle sirens and obstructing the movement of emergency responders across the state.

It is pertinent to state that emergency workers are human beings who have families and will be mindful of their safety as they  struggle to save others’ lives. Therefore, threatening no attitudinal change by the Nigerians”, he said.

But a resident who simply identified himself as Femi said, “ Had they come early, we would not have recorded any casualty. Even when they came they started looking for hydrant. Tell me, if they do not have, where do you expect us to get it from?

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