Umuororonjo Shopping Plaza a well-known mall in Owerri, on Thursday caught fire and the blaze ended up destroying goods worth over N1bn.
The shopping plaza although only one-storey high contained over 40 shops selling electronic goods, like phones and laptops.
No human casualty was reported in the incident. Eyewitness reports puts the start of the fire to have about 5.10am on Thursday. and all efforts to put out the fire were unsuccessful.
“We started seeing smoke from one of the shops on the first floor of the building. We raised the alarm and people started gathering immediately.
“All our manual efforts to use water and detergent to quench the fire did not succeed.”
He added that they attempted to reach the Fire Station in Owerri but they responded lazily.
“We were there until 8am when more people, including passers-by, gathered, but by then, the inferno had gutted all the shops.”
A shop owner called Mr. Sampson Ochia who ran a computer store stated he lost over N20m worth of goods.
He said he had recently received a N15m loan from the bank, using his underdeveloped land as collateral he responded tearfully saying
“Where do I go from here? What becomes my fate from today?”
Clement Ajoku a 63-year-old who had over N50m Worth of goods in electronics stated.
“What will I be doing now? My life has changed from worse to worst. How will I get money to re-start my business in this cantankerous Imo state and Nigeria at large. A business I started when I was 32 had gone.”
Mr. Japhat Okoroafor the Director of Fire Service Owerri, who was contacted by a well-meaning citizens when the fire broke out said:
“We have only one serviceable firefighting vehicle in our office. That vehicle was used to fight a fire on Tuesday somewhere in Okigwe area, but it broke down during the return journey.
Since then, I have written memos for its repair, but there has been no official response so far.
Now that there is another emergency, there is no other fire fighting vehicle. In fact, the situation is helpless.”