From Joseph Obukata, Warri
A fire outbreak has been reported at the miller waterside near the old Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) yard in Warri, the commercial nerve centre of Delta state.
The fire broke out from a spot inhabited by some traders who owned lock up stores and shops around the Warri Central Hospital, opposite the former Palnalpina company.
Sources said that the fire was triggered from a gas cooker around 10:pm and fueled by activities of illegal oil bunkerers in that part of the metropolis.
It was gathered that the fire which was fueled by bunkering activities spread widely and burnt many shops and shanties near the old Warri port.
Contrary to reports in the social media, no part of NPA was gutted by the fire, an official who did not want his name on print told Daily Sun.
When contacted on phone, chairman of Warri South Council, Dr Michael Tidi who confirmed the incident said that immediately he got information about the fire he deployed personnel of the state fire service to the spot who battled the fire until he was contained.
“The information about the incident are still sketchy but what I heard from the community chairman as well as one or two residents in the area is that they alleged an occupant of one of the makeshift houses was cooking with a gas cooker and she locked the place she was cooking and stepped out. So before she could return the place was already engulfed with fire and it extended to those other areas.
“So my message to them is that let them know we must look out, because this is sketchy information but the government would work with the community leaders with the view to unravel what really led to the fire outbreak.
He said that he has passed preliminary investigation report to the appropriate authorities and “by that I mean His Excellency, The Governor as at last night. And of course today, I put a call through to the Honorable commissioner incharge of the Bureau of Special Duties, Hon. Johnbull Edema whose responsibility it is to reach out to the victims”.
He said that as a local government council, they are doing everything possible to work with the state government and the Bureau of Special Duties to cushion the effect of the losses suffered by the traders and residents.
The council boss said that about three persons sustained various degree of injuries from the fire while trying to evacuate their wares.
“No report of death and no part of NPA was gutted by the fire contrary to news being spread around. Don’t forget most of the houses there are makeshifts and shops but some of them sleep in their shops. Thank God no life was lost but people means of livelihood went down the drain.
“I must commend the efforts of the Delta State fire service. They responded swiftly to the call that I made and of course the security agents were on ground”.
He said that he cannot say if activities of oil bunkerers in that area inflamed the fire, saying “we are yet to unravel the claims that activities of oil bunkerers was responsible for inflaming the fire”, he said.