Nigeria: Vehicles, houses destroyed as fire guts NNPC gas station in Lagos
At least ten vehicles at a car shop were burnt beyond repairs after fire gutted a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) petrol station at Ogba.
Several other exotic vehicles at the shop as well as several buildings were also burnt in the inferno, which started Monday afternoon while a 50,000 capacity tanker was discharging Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) at the filling station.
It was gathered that fire sparked in the cause of the PMS offload, which led to an explosion that was succeeded by billowing smoke seen from about 20km from Yaya Abatan area of Ogba, a suburb in Lagos where the incident occurred.
Sources said the fire escalated because the petrol station owners did not call emergency workers on time and tried to put it out with their fire extinguisher which was small for the capacity of the tanker.
Residents in their hundreds trooped to the disaster location with crowd stretching over three kilometers in defiance to ongoing lockdown order to contain further spread of COVID-19.
Some of them claimed they had to rush out of their homes to know what was happening and see how they could assist, adding that it was not the first time they have encountered petrol stations gutting fire in the area.
Most of the witnesses, including occupants of the shopping complex that housed the petrol station were still in shock and declined to give first-hand account of what transpired.
But a woman, who claimed her house was behind the car shop, said they all ran out of their homes as soon as they heard people screaming fire.
She said: “It happened around 1pm. My house is just behind the car shop. At first we did not know what was going on. Suddenly, people were shouting fire! Fire!
“They were calling people to run out and as we ran out, I heard a big bang.
“Thick smoke followed the sound. Some people fell on the ground while running. I do not know if they sustained injuries. I did not stop for anyone. I was dragging my children and running with them.
“It was after we have ran to about three streets away that I started asking the cause of the fire and was told it is a tanker at the NNPC filling station.
“It partially affected some buildings at Yaya Abatan because the fuel entered into the gutter and spread far,” she said.
It was gathered that youths in the area battled to contain the fire for a while before the arrival of emergency workers without much success as the inferno allegedly entered an underground tank at the filling station.
Speaking on the inferno, the Director General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu said the petrol station owners did not put enough safety measures in place, adding that the tanker was trying to transload its content when the fire broke out.
Oke-Osanyintolu lamented the crowd challenge rescuers faced, noting that it took them at least 30 minutes to get the crowd under control before they could work.
“This incident is due to the fact that this tanker which has a capacity of about 50,000 was trying to transload its content at the petrol station. The uniqueness about this particular incident is that we have a gas plant just nearby, people are selling things at this story building and there’s a car shop beside the petrol station.
“We are going to carry out a lot of tests here. We will test the buildings, petrol station structure, the soil and the underground tanker. Our investigation is going to be holistis.
We are going to ensure safety of lives and properties which is what is paramount to this administration.
“We have about eight cars that were burnt beyond repairs. Other vehicles were burnt but they can be fixed,” he said.
Also, Special Duties Commissioner Tayo Gbamgbose Martins said the government would create buffers in order to ensure safety of residents in areas where petrol stations are located.
He commended the youths for helping emergency workers contain the situation noting that the mammoth crowd at the fire scene behaved differently from those usually encountered at other locations.