Traders of Umuahia Timber Industrial Market in Abia State have been gutted by fire and lost goods worth millions of naira in a mysterious inferno that engulfed their business premises, Fire Fighters Magazine gathered.
According to sources in the area, few of the traders and some early callers to the scene could not do much to save the situation as the raging fire prevented them from coming close to see if there is anything that they could salvage.
They said that the situation could have been worse if not for the efforts of the personnel of the Abia State Fire Service who helped to stop the fire from spreading to other parts of the market.
The affected traders were shop owners at the wood industrial and machine section of the Timber Market while goods and property in the area estimated at over N2billion was reportedly saved by the Abia State Fire Service who responded promptly to the incident.
The cause of the fire incident, at the time of filing the report, is still unknown but a source in the area who suspected foul play wondered how the fire engulfed the area.
“How can the fire affect these shops that don’t have electricity? Look at the road demarcating the lines and tell me if there is any way that the fire could have moved over to the other lines. I am seriously suspecting foul play. There should be a thorough investigation of the remote cause of the inferno.
“Why must it be now that many shop owners have travelled to their villages? Why must it be a day that there is no market? We need answers to some of these questions to believe that this is not a deliberate act of sabotage,” he stated.
A source in the Abia State Fire Service told journalist that they were on ground at the time of the incident with the hope of tracing the cause of the inferno.
The fire affected four lines of 25 shops, 30 sawing machines worth about N1billion. The machines are said to be air coolers.”
When contacted, the Director of Abia State Fire Service, Mr. Victor Gbaruko who led the crew team to the incident scene confirmed the fire incident and called on residents of the state to be safety conscious.
According to him, the Abia state fire service is doing all it can to ensure that they attend to fire emergencies as soon as they can.
He urged residents to ensure that they switched off all electrical appliances and avoid storing of combustible materials in their homes that could trigger fire outbreaks.
A source in the state fire service, who pleaded anonymity, told journalist that the three fire trucks in the Aba state fire service have broken down over the past few weeks due to what the source described as overlabouring of the vehicles and lack of maintenance.
They used this opportunity to call on the respective authorities to provide adequate funds to aid the Abia state Fire Service perform its statutory responsibility.