Houses, shops, vehicles razed in pipeline fire

                            

Charred remains of vehicles, shops and houses littered the scene yesterday, as fire swept through Abule Egba to abattoir in Agege, Lagos.

The fire followed the explosion of a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline from which vandals were scoping fuel.

Over 50 vehicles, including the 19 parked in a shop and a filling station were destroyed. Three other car shops were affected.

About 100 houses and shops were razed in the fire which started around 2am.

It could not be ascertained at press time if there were casualties. But a 38-year-old widow, Ruth Joseph, her son, Samuel and three others suffered burns.

The fire was said to have started in front of a school at 4, Segun Akinola Street, opposite Tipper Garage, near Awori bus stop, Abule Egba, following the activities of the vandals, who came with three tankers to siphon.

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The widow said they were sleeping when she heard a loud sound and people screaming.

“We were sleeping when we started hearing shouts. I woke up and saw fire inside my home with plenty heat. The first thing that came to my mind was to rescue my children. I was able to get two out unhurt, but when I went for Samuel, the fire caught up with us.

“I am a poor widow and do not have money for hospital bill. This is why I am happy the police commissioner has directed that me and my son be taken to the General Hospital, Ikeja for treatment.”

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Residents said the vandals, who dug a hole to connect their hose to the NNPC pipelines, dropped the hose inside the gutter without shutting the valves.

Petrol was said to have flowed through the gutter to abattoir where it sparked fire, apparently due to the activities of butchers, who were working then.

Areas affected included Arowolo, Shogbawole, Adefegba, Katonwi, Santos, Taiwo Adewole, Wamon Taofeek, Owode and Akinlere streets.

The inferno also affected Justrite Shopping Mall, Samar Filling Station and the canal near Agege Abattoir.

Others included Charity Road Junction opposite Oko Oba Market and parts of Ile-Epo.

A woman, Stella John, said residents fled their homes when they heard the explosions, with many injured in the ensuing melee.

“I did not care to pick anything. The first thing that came to my mind was to run for safety. People were wailing, running in different directions. Many people sustained injuries.

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“It is not true that people were scooping fuel. If at all people did something like that, maybe those were the people who did not witness the December 26, 2006 fire incident when hundreds of people scooping fuel were roasted alive,” she said.

A resident, who refused to give his name, said “why wouldn’t there be pipeline vandalism and explosion here again when the one of December 26, 2006 was not investigated?”

He said the only way to stop the Abule Egba pipeline vandalism was to investigate the explosions of 2006 and yesterday.

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