Christmas tasted sour for the landlord and tenants at No. 8 Amangwu Lane, Opposite White House, Umudioka Awka, as a massive inferno on Christmas day gutted the entire building of fifteen rooms and two sitting rooms.
As at the time TNC correspondent arrived the scene of the fire yesterday, the entire building had been razed down with the occupants in total shock and confusion as to where to go.
It was gathered that the fire started when the children of one of the tenants were playing with match sticks.
They were said to have lit their parents’ clothes in their room, which quickly spread and consumed the entire building.
When he spoke to TNC, the grieving owner of the building, Mr. Ikechukwu Umeh revealed that he was already out for his business when he started getting calls that his house was on fire.
In tears, he told journalists that the house was his entire life’s effort and he lost all his valuable properties and that of his tenants.
“I am totally devastated because I don’t know what to do.
“When I got the call, I immediately got down here, driving like a mad man. Upon getting her, I didn’t know what to do,” he said.
He blamed the fire on one of the tenants, who he said, left underaged children alone in the house and they started playing with the matchsticks before lighting the clothes.
“The children were shouting when they saw the fire and another tenant came and rescued them. If not for her, these children would have been burnt by this fire.
“An estimate of the damage done by the fire in my own apartment is over thirty million and not to talk of those of the tenants.
“I really don’t know how to start afresh. I sincerely need help,” the devastated landlord said.
A tenant in one of the blocks of the building, Mrs. Chinyere Egburuche said she was indoors watching a movie when her restless child forced her outside for a bath when she discovered the fire.
She said she immediately raised an alarm but nothing could be done before the entire building was razed.
She also lamented that she could not salvage anything, as her valuables, work tools and documents were destroyed.
A media practitioner, Miss Lilian Egburuche, who could not hold back emotion and tears, painfully narrated how she lost everything to the fire, just a day after losing her goods for sale at Onitsha in the hands of thieves.
“I am just a fatherless child struggling to make ends meet through the little job I do at my work place and these wares I sell.
“Now that everything has been destroyed by fire, I am shattered.
“I just pray God gives me the strength because this is way too much for me,” she sobbed.
The father of the kids who were said to have ignited the fire, Mr. Obinna Woti said he wasn’t home when the incident happened and expressed his devastation over the incident as another tenant Mrs. Eunice Uchenna said they lost everything,