Yesterday’s fire outbreak on Church street in the Makoko area of Lagos State has been described as many things but normal.
The incident which began as an electrical surge in a single housing unit, grew to consume no fewer than 50 rooms and shops within three hours amid frantic rescue efforts.
Findings by our correspondent have revealed that the houses in the area succumbed easily to the flames as asides being too close to each other, they were all made of wood that burns quickly and breathes life to flames.
Each house in the area was discovered to have contained six rooms or more, housing families or serving as shops.
Residents claimed they had been advised to build brick houses after a similar fire outbreak happened once before, but many families cannot afford it and opted for wood instead.
There, however, are a few brick houses and a church surrounding the wooden houses which where the only ones spared from the fire.
Contributing also to the quick spread of the fire was the delayed reaction by residents. Some residents told us that they had initially seen th flames, but downplayed it until it was impossible to ignore.
The firefighters were also late to the scene, arriving two hours after they were contacted.
A shop owner in the area said she called the Fire Services in Apapa and Surulere as soon as the fire started spreading, and she was initially told that there was no water after which they told her the firefighters where on their way but didn’t get there until two hours later.
“The firefighters arrived and said it wasn’t their direct number we called but we called 112 and we where asked for our location and we said Makoko, Church street, they were supposed to have contacted the closest Fire Service to us, but they didn’t.
“Later, they will come for Tenament rate, Council money, Extension fees,” she said.
In response to her accusations, the firefighters said the normal response that would be gotten from the office was that they were on their way even if they had not left the office.
“Even if we have not left the office, they would tell you that we were on our way, besides we didn’t get the correct address, all we got was ‘Makoko, Adekunle, Yaba Street beside Filing station’ even after we received series of calls in our office,” the firefighters said.
The fire which started at about 3pm, was eventually doused some minutes after 6pm.