Goods worth millions of naira were on Thursday destroyed when fire gutted no fewer than 100 shops and stalls at Oke Afa Plank Market, Ejigbo Road, Lagos.
It was learnt that the fire was caused by an electrical fault in one of the shops.
It was gathered that the fire caught the majority of the traders unawares as they were holding their weekly general meeting after observing the environmental cleaning exercise.
When our correspondent visited the market, the traders were seen salvaging their property which had not been torched.
Others were seen calling their loved ones on the phones to inform them about the tragedy that befell them. Some of them stood in groups counting their losses. However, no casualty was recorded.
The fire caused gridlock on Ejigbo Road as one of the lanes was shut to traffic to prevent vehicles from catching fire.
One of the traders, Emmanuel Adeleke, said the rains that fell coupled with the quick intervention of the men of the Lagos State Fire Service prevented the whole market from being consumed.
He said, “As you can see, almost half of the market has been consumed. I called 112 emergency line when I suddenly saw smoke emanating from one of the stalls.
“But, due to the nature of the goods we trade in, the fire spread swiftly beyond our imagination. We are so saddened by this incident.”
Another trader, Taiwo Ige, whose shop was razed, said he could not at the moment quantify his loss.
He said, “I don’t have capital. What I do is to buy the planks on credit and pay the supplier after selling.
“All the goods in my shop were bought on credit and I don’t know how to go about getting the N900, 000 I owe my customer in Ore, Ondo State.”
A 40-year-old single mother, Yewande Otedola, lamented that said she had just stocked her shop with goods on Wednesday.
She said, “I don’t know where I would pick up the pieces of my life from. Goods worth over N1.6m were consumed and nothing was spared by the ravaging fire.
“The future looks uncertain for me because the microfinance bank where I went to take loan would soon be on my neck for repayment. Government should come to our aid and help mitigate these loses.”
The head of the association of machine operators in the market, Jide Ogunsola, said his members lost 10 industrial generators to the inferno.
He said, “We can’t estimate the extent of the damage for now as the incident just happened.
“But preliminary estimation shows that over 70 per cent our members were affected. We have lost various wood processing machines worth millions of naira to the ravaging inferno.”
As at 2:30pm when our correspondent left the scene, firefighters were still battling to put out the fire.
Meanwhile, the General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Femi Oke-Osayintolu, in a text message confirmed that at least 100 shops and stalls were affected by the inferno.
He said the fire was probably caused by a spark in one of the shops stored with chemicals.
He said, “The incident occurred around 10:30am and we immediately rushed down to the scene along with firefighters.
“At least 100 shops were affected while properties and goods estimated at over N100m were consumed by the fire. Fortunately, no death was recorded and the fire has been put out completely.”