Goods and property worth millions of naira were destroyed as fire gutted the oil mill market in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The incident occurred early Saturday, and although the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, it is believed to have started while traders were still in their homes. The market, located in Rumuokwurusi community in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, is a popular mid-week market where traders from neighboring states converge to sell their goods.
According to an eyewitness, the fire started at about 6:45 am and raged for several hours before firefighters arrived to put it out. Traders who lost their goods to the inferno lamented the impact the incident would have on their businesses, calling on Governor Nyesom Wike to come to their aid. A middle-aged woman who lost all her goods in the fire said she was still asleep when she received the distressing news. She called on the governor to come to their aid, saying they were dying because of the fire.
Another victim, a widow, cried uncontrollably, saying she borrowed money to purchase goods in her two shops, which had been consumed by the fire. She was worried about how to pay back the money she had borrowed, given that she had lost everything in the fire. The incident has left traders at the market in a state of despair, wondering how to pick up the pieces of their lives and businesses.
The Chairman of the Community Development Committee, Rumuokwrushi, O. C Wosu, said the cause of the fire was still unknown but expressed relief that no life was lost. He said he received calls from distressed traders, informing him of the fire outbreak, and quickly alerted the fire service. The Total E&P and Shell fire services also came to the scene and were able to contain the fire. Wosu thanked God that there were no casualties but called on the Rivers State Government and the local government to come to the aid of the affected traders.
The incident underscores the need for proactive measures to prevent fire outbreaks in markets and other public places. Traders and other stakeholders must be educated on fire safety measures and the need to have fire extinguishers and other fire-fighting equipment in their shops. Fire service providers should also be well-equipped and trained to respond to fire incidents promptly.
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