NO fewer than three persons were, yesterday, injured in a fire that engulfed the 25-storey building owned by the Great Nigeria Insurance Company Limited, popularly called Great Nigeria House.
According to a Vanguard report, more than 200 traders occupying the building were displaced, as business activities around Oluwole Market and other
adjourning streets were paralysed and property worth billions of naira destroyed in the inferno.
Hundreds of bystanders and staff of corporate organisations in the building watched helplessly as fire service men battled to put out the fire.
A senior officer of the Federal Fire Service identified as Mr. Obiah Onoh was, however, manhandled by the angry mob for the service’s alleged late response to distress calls.
Vanguard gathered that about three cars parked on the second floor of the building were also burnt by the fire, which started at 6a.m. on the first floor and spread to the third floor of the over 30-year-old building.
Officials of the Federal and LagosState fire services, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, their Lagos State counterpart, LASEMA, and other emergency management agencies were still battling the fire at 3:30p.m., nine hours after the outbreak.
It was further learnt that the fire was made worse by inflammable goods stocked in the building, especially air conditioners, rubber foot wear among others.
Mr. Olawale Ajayi, a trader, said: “I operate a shop here, and my shop is on the third floor. I was already here about few minutes before 6a.m.
“Suddenly, we heard sounds of footsteps, an indication that people were running. They started screaming to alert us of the fire on the first floor.
“I cannot say what caused the fire. All I can say is that five minutes after PHCN restored power, we saw a thick smoke.
“Before we could do anything, the entire first floor of the building was already engulfed.”