We Live In Constant Fear Of Fire Outbreak –Neighbours Of Burnt Ketu Plank Market

We Live In Constant Fear Of Fire Outbreak –Neighbours Of Burnt Ketu Plank Market

While traders who lost their source of income when fire gutted the Ketu Plank Market in Lagos last Friday March 8, mourn their loss, residents around the market are living in fear.

We Live In Constant Fear Of Fire Outbreak –Neighbours Of Burnt Ketu Plank Market

Although the residents expressed concern for the wellbeing of the traders who make their living selling planks, building materials and tools in the market, they were also worried that any fire incident in the market had always been a traumatic experience for them.

The residents who spoke with Saturday PUNCH on Thursday, expressed concern that the market was a threat to their lives.

The market is surrounded by houses on every side. This makes any fire outbreak a terror to those living close to the area.

Mrs. Chioma Akuegbu’s house overlooks the market directly, with about 10 meters in between them.

When the fire that consumed the market began to roar, she had to evacuate her family. She wrapped members of her family in wet blankets before they fled to safety.

She told our correspondent, “You needed to be there to really understand how intense the heat from the fire was.

“We were certain the fire was going to spread to our house. The heat was intense even 50 metres away from the fire. We had to pack our credentials and run out of the house with our children because we reasoned that if our house would be burnt, at least the credentials that are evidence of our hardwork would be safe.

“The location of this market is a big problem. But what can we do? If government has decided to rebuild it, we can only implore it to take into consideration, we the residents.”

Another resident, Mrs. Funmi Olugbimo, did not mince words when she declared, “This market is a risk to our lives.”

The woman reminisced with trepidation the moment she got home on a motorcycle and realised that the blaze she had seen afar off was just a few metres from her house.

She met a group of people trying to disconnect a cable which extends from her house to one of the burning wooden shops in the market.

“We had to cut all the cables because the fire was about to spread to our house from the cables. The cables had started burning.

“I think government should know that this kind of market should not be located this close to a residential area. Don’t get me wrong, it is not like we do not sympathise with the traders who lost their goods, but government should consider those of us whose lives and property are at risk also.”

Olugbimo suggested that government should provide an alternative location, farther away from residential buildings, for the traders.

“I have witnessed about three fire incidents in this market since I started living here but this last one was more than one could imagine,” she said.

Many of the residents, our correspondent learnt, resorted to pouring water on the frontage of their houses in order to reduced the intense heat from the burning market. It was as if the walls of the buildings around the market would burst into flames as the fire raged, they said.

But one building that was not lucky was the residence of the pastor of  Christ Apostolic Church, Oke Iyanu Ketu I.

The fire spread to the building, which was demarcated by a large gutter -about 20 metres to the market.

It destroyed part of the roof directly over the pastor’s bedroom.

Pastor Sea Oludare narrated the frightful moment that could have proved tragic for him but for his vigilance and help of his neighbours.

He said, “I witnessed it all from the start to the end. People kept saying that the market was probably set on fire by agents of government. These are lies.

“I was looking out of the window from one of the rooms on the second floor of the house when I saw the cable on an electric pole spark. The spark that came off it landed on one of the shops and it caught fire. I was the first person to raise the alarm and call people around.”

Oludare said the building caught fire because wind blew the flames in the direction of the church.

He said he would not forget in  a hurry, his fear when he saw the roof of the building.

“The fire was high, intense and hellish. We were lucky that we had water in the overhead tank of the church.

“I led some helpful neighbours to douse the fire with water. We had to break the ceiling. Some people climbed into the roof and poured water from within to ensure it did not spread.

“The location of the market is a major issue though. I am aware that the market has been there before some of the residential buildings that surround it. But it will be helpful if government is able to provide the traders with a more spacious place away from residential buildings.”

The residents have made their opinion known, waiting to see the kind of structures that will be put in place by government.

Some of them have suggested that a very high perimeter fence could be of help since government had decided to rebuild the market.

Mrs. Funke Adetiba, a resident of a house close to the market, suggested that wooden shops should be prohibited in the market.

Like Governor Babatunde Fashola suggested to the traders last Sunday while inspecting the burnt market, the residents may also need insurance against fire.

Fashola, who promised to rebuild the market, said getting insurance companies involved would enable those skilled in the wood trade to remain in business.

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