Goods, equipment and cash conservatively put at N1 billion was on Monday night consumed by a raging inferno, which gutted the Nworie Lane Industrial Market, Owerri and some of the adjoining buildings, including the Douglas Road branch of United Bank for Africa Plc.
Vanguard investigations revealed that the huge fire, which many people claimed was “mysterious”, started from the Industrial Market at about 10.30pm and uncontrollably spread to other areas.
As at the last count, two blocks in the market and the entire Ekeson Line were completely razed but Total Filling Station and Star Hotel Extension barely managed t survive the fire.
Some shop owners and sympathizers battled all night to contain the raging fire before the arrival of the largely ill-equipped State Fire Service, proved abortive.
It was also gathered that printing achiness, computers, electric generating sets, compact discs, foams, fabricating machines, carpets, cash and other items were lost in the market.
When Vanguard visited the scene again yesterday at about 10.35am, a thick smoke still covered the area, while a stationary fire engine and fire service personnel were seen doing what some on-lookers called “mop-up activities”.
Similarly, a combined team of soldiers, policemen, State Security Service and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps cordoned off the bank premises, as some bank officials made frantic effort to retrieve and pack what remained of their property into a bullion van.
Spirited efforts made by Vanguard to get an insight from any of the bankers on what they lost and where they were moving the remnants of their property to failed, as they all declined comments.