Some 20 houses and several shops were razed to ruins on Saturday in the Kosofe area of Mile 12, a community in Lagos State.
The incident, which rendered dozens of families homeless, occurred on Adebimpe Street, leaving most of the houses built with wood and corrugated iron sheets reduced to ashes.
It was gathered that the fire started after the stove a woman named Iya Dada was using to cook food caught fire, forcing her to throw it in front of the house, where it came in contact with a keg of petrol being conveyed by a passerby.
It wasn’t long before the fire spread across the area, ravaging houses and anything standing in its way.
Iya Dada, whose husband left the house with their son a few minutes before the incident to buy an item at a nearby shop, was badly burnt by the inferno and is currently battling for her life at the Gbagada General Hospital.
She was initially rushed to a private hospital on Oduntan Street in Kosofe and the General Hospital, Ikorodu, but was rejected before being moved to Gbagada.
Also, the man carrying the keg of petrol sustained minor injuries and is receiving treatment at an unknown location, according to the residents.
Speaking on the losses incurred from the inferno,, one of the leaders of the community, Oluwo Alapini, explained that the fire was made worse by people storing petrol illegally in their houses for sale.
He noted that several reports made to the police in the past have failed to solve the problem because after collecting kickbacks from those in the illicit business, the law enforcement agents usually look the other way.
He said, “The fire has taken away everything we have. It consumed everything we ever worked for. We couldn’t save anything. My children and I no longer have a place to sleep. All those, who pretended to be helping us to rescue what was left, stole from us.
“The fire was made worse by the high quantity of petrol that people illegally stored in their houses for sale.
“We have made several reports to the police but each time they come here, they collect money from those in the illegal business. They don’t arrest them.
“We can’t quantify our losses; it’s a very tragic incident for all of us living in this community, because we have been rendered homeless by the fire.”
Also speaking, a young lady, Faisat Tijani, who was seen crying on the spot where her family house once stood, told our correspondent that all her academic certificates had been consumed by the fire, and expressed fears as to what the future held for her.
She said, “I was in the house with my younger sibling when the fire started; we had to run out to avoid being burnt alive.
“We couldn’t save any of our belongings. My certificates got burnt in the fire.”
Four fire service trucks from Ikeja, were said to have helped to extinguish the fire on Saturday.
Confirming the fire incident, the spokesperson for the Lagos State Fire Service, Mrs Bola Ajao, noted that the affected structures were shanties made of combustible materials.
“The fire incident happened on Adebimpe Street, Church Avenue, Kosofe, close to the First Bank in Mile 12.
“Three fire stations at Alausa, Ikeja and Ilupeju responded to the distress call around 8.05pm and returned around 11.59pm.”
She quoted the acting Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Rasaki Musibau, as advising residents to be safety conscious and always call the attention of the agency to fire outbreaks instead of attempting to extinguish fires by themselves.