The Federal Fire Service (FFS) has revealed that some angry mob stopped its men from getting to the scene of Wednesday’s fire incident in Onitsha, Anambra State.
KanyiDaily reported that a fuel tanker laden with substance premium motor spirit (pms) had fallen into a ditch and spilled its contents, resulting in an explosion at MCC bus stop near Toronto Hospital, Upper-Iweka, Onitsha.
An eye witness told NAN that no fewer than five persons including a mother and her child, have died so far in the incident as the fire razed structures, including shops on Upper Iweka road and at Ochanja market.
Men from the Fire Service were unable to put out the fire, which resulted to tension in the area.
However, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, the spokesperson of the agency, Ugo Huan, said:
“The Federal Fire Service received a call about the fire outbreak around 2.00 p. m.
“The control room at the headquarters in Abuja immediately turned out its nearest station at Asaba, Delta State, to attend to the fire.
“Our men immediately headed to the scene but it was not possible to contend with the heavy traffic at the Niger head bridge, coupled with the behaviour of an angry mob who pelted stones at them.
“Thus, it was not possible for the firefighters to get to the scene and fight the fire in such a hostile environment.”
The spokesman said the FFS Controller General, Mr Liman Ibrahim, was deeply saddened by the incident, and had expressed his heart-felt condolences to the victims and their families.
“The Federal Fire Service is committed to ensuring the safety of lives and property, with the procurement of new state-of-the-art firefighting trucks distributed to the 12 zones of the service across the nation.
“The service is always ready to respond to fire outbreaks and other emergencies across the nation.
“It is worthy to note that similar situations in recent past in Sokoto, Uyo, Minna, Ibadan, Osun and Lagos were prevented from escalating to a major disaster by the Federal Fire Service.
“The case of Ochanja market was an unfortunate one, as one will wonder why individuals will want to attack firefighters that came to help put out fire that was threatening lives and ravaging property,” he said.
Huan added that “the service will like to use this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians that in as much as the fire service is prepared and committed to saving of lives and property in emergencies, their support and cooperation is highly needed to do that.”
He further explained that the service remained committed to its mandate of saving lives and property of Nigerians and others residing in the country.
Meanwhile, a former aide to Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri says that Igbos should blame themselves for the tanker accident.
Omokri expressed disappointment as to why a fire station isn’t situated in Onitsha Market which is considered the largest in west Africa.