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Onitsha blaze guts 80 shops


Onitsha Chemical Market fire

Scene from the fire outbreak at Onitsha Chemical Market

The Anambra State Fire Services Director, Martin Agbili, has disclosed that over 80 shops were affected by the fire incident that took place at the Science and Lab Line of Ogbo-Ogwu Market in Onitsha Bridgehead, Anambra State, on Tuesday.

Agbili stated that the affected shops were not really affected because of the fire outbreak but because of the vibration caused by the heavy explosions, which also collapsed some buildings in the market.

The fire started around 12.10pm on Tuesday when chemicals stored in one of the shops exploded, thereby leading to a stampede in the heavily populated market, which resulted in deaths and injuries.

He said, “It is really a terrible situation, but the fire is under control. About 80 shops were affected, not really because of the fire outbreak but because of the vibration of the explosions that caused the collapses of some market buildings.”

The Publicity Secretary of the Chemical Line at Onitsha Head Bridge, Mr. Peter Okala, while speaking to journalists at the scene of the fire on Wednesday, attributed the cause of the fire to chemical reactions and not a bomb explosion as widely speculated.

Okala cautioned that the fire incident should not be misunderstood as a bomb explosion, insisting that those who study chemistry will understand how pure chemical reactions work.

He said, “Though bombs and chemical reactions are synonymous in nature, what caused the fire explosion was a chemical hazard, not a bomb.

“So, I want the whole world to understand that what took place in the market on Tuesday was not a bomb blast.”

Okala stated that the planned demolition of the affected buildings may be necessary due to the impact of the explosions on the building’s strength.

“The impact of the explosion was great on the buildings, but what we need to do is sit down with the state government and know the extent of the demolition.

“We have to study it to know the areas that are weak and the ones that are strong. Demolishing the whole building without carrying along the various unions and traders will further inflict more pain on the people,” he added.

Okala, however, lauded the prompt response of the Federal and State Fire Services in curtailing the situation.

A former chairman of the market union, Mr. Reuben Chinedu, called for proper investigations to ascertain the real cause of the fire explosion in the market.

Chinedu noted that multi-million naira’s worth of goods and properties, including lives, were lost, and as such, a thorough investigation should immediately be carried out, and if anyone is found wanting, they should be made to face the law.

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