Buildings, a truck, several cars and other property worth hundreds of millions of naira were on Thursday, destroyed in a fire incident at Mobile Filling Station UNIZIK -tempsite junction along the Awka-Onitsha expressway.
It was gathered that the fire started at about 12:30pm with an explosion, when a worn-out tanker was offloading petroleum products at the filling station.
According to an eye witness, Chibuzor Okoye, who said he was nearby when the explosion happened, immediately the explosion happened, pump attendants and owners of vehicles taking fuel at the station ran for their lives, abandoning all the cars and other assets.
He also revealed that men of the state fire service had arrived the scene on time and commenced work during which they ran out of water, but could not move because of traffic gridlock that had engulfed the whole area.
“It was a particular worn out tanker that was dispensing petroleum product into one of the underground tanks at the filling station when we heard the explosion.
“This fire could have been effectively controlled if there was space for the fire service to move out and get water.
“Unfortunately, they were stuck in traffic caused by the impatience of motorists,” he lamented.
When TNC correspondent arrived the scene at about 1:09pm, the fire was raging, while the only fire truck on sight was trying to navigate the heavy traffic to leave the site in search of water.
A sympathizer at the scene, Chigozie Anyakwor regretted that the State Government could not provide such essential outfit as the Fire Service with enough equipment to address such challenges.
He said it is worrisome that such incident happened in the state capital and could not be tackled with dispatch.
One of the persons who helped in moving out wares from nearby shops, Emeka Obinwa urged government to urgently empower the State Fire Service to be able handle fire emergencies especially now that the dry season is on.
As at the time of filing this report at about 4pm, the fire had been brought under control.
After a search of some compartments where the fire had been put out completely, no human bodies were found, contrary to online reports that many were trapped in the inferno.