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Abule-Egba Fire: How I Went Through Fire To Rescue My Three Children — Widow

With hands at akimbo, they watched the charred remains of what used to be their comfort zones and only means of survival.
From their appearance, it was obvious that some of them have been putting on same clothes for days. Women, who were more in number, were sighted holding tight to their children, in the midst of sympathisers who thronged the scene to see the extent of damage.

The gloom of a hazy darkness could best describe the fate that has befallen some residents of Abule-Egba area of Lagos, who were rendered homeless, following Tuesday’s fire which was caused by activities of pipeline vandals.

About 100 houses, 100 shops and over 50 cars went up in flame, in Abule-Egba and Agege areas of Lagos.

The residents, majority of whom were artisans, had retired to bed Monday night, in anticipation to wake up next day, to resume the hustle, only to be jolted from sleep by shouts of fire.

While some of them managed to escape to safety, salvaging their property, same could not be said of others who woke up to discover that parts of their apartments were already on fire.

They however managed to scamper to safety in different directions, with some of them sustaining varying degrees of burns, even though no death was recorded.

I put my life on the line to save my children—Victim
One of them, a widow, displayed rare bravery by putting her life on the line to save one of her children who was left inside her burning apartment . Fortunately, her mission was fruitful but not without traces of burns that may end up being a reminder scar for her sacrificial move.

The widow and petty trader, Mrs Ruth Joseph, in this interview with Saturday Vanguard, said, “I was woken from sleep by shouts of fire. By the time I got up, the fire was already in my apartment. At that moment I was confused. Acting on impulse, I rushed to where my children were sleeping but I was only able to carry two of them out unhurt. By the time I went in for the third child, Samuel, the fire had covered the entire apartment. I thought of using clothes to cover us but most of the clothes had been consumed by fire. I then called on God to save me and my son. I carried him in my hands and shielded him with my back, as I rushed out. I was almost chocked by smoke. By the time I managed to get to where my other children were, I was already weak.

“I had burns at my back and hand. Being a poor widow, I could not go to the hospital for treatment because I could not afford the bills. I had to resort to self medication with my son”.

She however got a free medical treatment at the expense of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Imohimi Edgal, who visited the scene to access the level of damage. During the visit, he directed the Divisional Police Officer in-charge of Abule-Egba division to take those who sustained burns to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, LASUTH for proper treatment.

Elated by the news, the widow said, “the CP’s visit was an answered prayer to my getting medicare with my son. I am going through excruciating pains but I had to bear it because I am more concerned about my son’s state”.

Everything we laboured for is gone —landlady
Another resident, a landlady who gave her name as Mrs Risikatu Alisu, lamented that her 10- room bungalow building, on 7 Shobowale street, which served as the family’s only means of livelihood was completely razed. Unable to come to terms with the rude reality of the devastative impact, Alisu exclaimed: “I am ruined ! Where do I start from? Who do I go to ? Everything we laboured for, is gone. When we heard the alarm by residents, the entire building was already on fire. The only exit point was to jump through the fence. No one could salvage anything. The cloth on me was given to me by a neighbour “.

Artisans such as tailors, auto mechanics and power generating set repairers, also have their fair share of the tales of woe. Customers who took clothing materials, in preparation for Christmas celebration rushed to the shops with the hope of salvaging them, only to meet the debris.
One of the auto mechanics, Jide Olowoseni, said six vehicles under repairs: two Toyota Camry, a Honday Civic and two SUV, that were left at the workshop were ravaged by fire.
One of the owners of the SUVs whose name was given simply as Maduabuchi, was supposed to have gone to pick his car the previous day. But he called the auto mechanic that he would come for it the next day, only to meet its charred remains.

I don’t know where to start from—65-year-old resident
Another resident of Awori street, Mr Lawal Mohammed, lost his building, four shops and a car in the fire. Looking forlorn, he said “I am grateful to God that I and members of my family escaped unhurt. But the damage the fire wrecked can only be replaced by God”. Continuing, the 65- year- old man said “the house that was built with my gratuity, has gone down the drain. I honestly don’t know where to start from”
One of his tenants, Joseph , said “It is going to be a bleak Christmas. Nobody is even talking about that now. The most important issue is where we will lay our heads temporarily until we find our feet”.

Other residents of Abule-Egba bemoaned that this was not the first time such incident would occur there. In fact, they described this as less devastating when compared to that of 2006, where over 200 persons were burnt beyond recognition.
The 2006 incident as gathered, occurred while residents particularly youths were scooping petroleum products from an NNPC pipeline that was vandalised by vandals.

Inspite of the repairs carried out on the damaged broken pipes by NNPC officials, vandals still found their way there. But this time around, they devised new methods, such as posing as security personnel or NNPC officials whenever they visited .

How vandals break pipeline, siphon fuel
One of the spots frequently visited by these vandals was located at Tipper garage, off Awori. On this particular spot where the NNPC pipe passes, vandals placed an empty container there which had a lock outside. On it was scribbled “for sale” with N700,000 price tag, a price four times its actual price. By the side of the container were local restaurant where people came to eat and drink. But at night, vandals would start their activities as they reportedly came in trucks to siphon fuel from the spot.

Information at Saturday Vanguard’s disposal during a visit to the scene, revealed that the vandals stormed the area between midnight and 1am on Tuesday in three trucks. They opened the container on which was written “for sale”, dug a hole until they reached the pipeline. Thereafter, they broke the pipeline, connected their hose to the valve from where the product was siphoned into the trucks.

Explaining the possible cause of the inferno, a resident, Mr Toheeb Ismaila said “they dropped the hose inside the drainage without shutting the valves after loading the trucks. I believe they were expecting more trucks. This caused the product to spill into the drainage. This was what caused the fire. The fire spread through the drainage where the products spilled and passed through Justrite Shopping Mall, Samar Filling Station, then to the canal near Agege Abbattoir and Charity Road Junction opposite Oko Oba Market.

Fortunately for the vandals, the fire did not start from where they were, otherwise they would all have been burnt to death. But they quickly left the scene when they saw the fire.

Lagos State Police Command boss, Imohimi Edgal, during his visit to the area to access the level of damage, said investigation was still ongoing to ascertain the exact cause of the fire.

He attributed part of the cause of the incident to residents’ silence on activities of vandals in the area.

In his address to members of Awori community, he warned them against indulging vandals in their nefarious activities.

He said : “You will not pretend that you do not see these vandals when they are operating but you chose to keep quiet at your expense. This incident would have been more than this had the substance not passed through the drainage. If it had been otherwise, many of you would have been affected”

Edgal therefore gave his personal telephone number to them, requesting them to call him any time they sighted vandals siphoning petroleum products there.

Source; https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/12/abule-egba-fire-how-i-went-through-fire-to-rescue-my-three-children-widow/

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