The residence of popular playwright and filmmaker, Ola Balogun in Sabo area of Yaba, Lagos, was yesterday razed by fire. A nearby three-storey building housing the secretariat of two labour unions was also affected. The building housed the secretariat of Association of Senior Staff of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), affiliated to Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and the federal branch of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE).
The fire, which started at about 2:30am in the bungalow, was suspected to have been caused by power surge.
The playwright woke up to see the inferno consuming his property and shouted for help. Neighbours reportedly came to his rescue, salvaging some of his belongings, including vehicles parked in the compound. Although, nothing much could be done by them to stop the fire from spreading, due to its intensity. The fire service arrived later at about 3 a.m.
In a text message to Vanguard, Balogun wrote: “My residence at 11, Aje Street, Sabo-Yaba, is on fire and has virtually burned down. The next door building at 9, Aje Street is also on fire. Poor response by fire services.”
The Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Razaq Fadipe, however said the agency received the distress call late.
Reacting on the fire incident, which brought down the three storey building, Fadipe said: “We got information that the building was distressed and the occupants were served a quit notice, but some illegal occupants took over the building.
“The fire started from the bungalow that was beside it and spread to the three-storey building, which incidentally collapsed.
“The caller, one Tokunbo, called my number directly and I heard in the background that the fire had spread to the nearby building. He told me he had already alerted our communications centre and this was confirmed, when I sent the information,” he said.
The building, which collapsed was said to have been built for over 30 years, reportedly served as one of the unions’ headquarters until it relocated to Abuja.