A man, his wife and four sons were almost roasted in a fire that engulfed their apartment in the odd hours of Monday, August 10, 2020.
The pathetic incident which began around 11pm happened at the Rumuowha Transformer Road in Eneka of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The fire was said to have been ignited by firewood used by a food vendor in the late night of Sunday to steam tomatoes in preparation for her business on Monday morning. As usual, according to report, after such steaming, the cook often puts off the fire with water, then arranges the wood beside a neighbour’s corner.
TNN gathered that till date, both neighbours have been at loggerheads over the packaging of used firewood beside the victim’s house. It was also alleged that the victim and other neighbours had raised concern, urging the Landlord of the building to ask the cook and her husband to desist from keeping the wood beside the house after use, whether the Landlord called them to order or not, is yet to be made known as the Landlord was not in town as at the time of this incident.
Complaining to TNN and residents after the putting out of the fire, the victim, who gave his name as simply Mr. Victor, commonly known as Papa Goodluck said “My sister, see me see wahala, see me see wahala, this thing wey happen, my mouth no fit talk, I no fit talk, this one tire me, see house wey me and my family dey live, see my things, see my small children.
“Na God I dey thank, na this God wey dey heaven, if not, if not, watin I for talk, watin I for talk? me, my wife and children for just burn go like that, just like that, but na this God no gree. If you see fire, fire.
Speaking on what led to the ugly fire incident, Victor, who is a butcher said, “Na the firewood wey my neighbor wife dey keep beside my house when she cook for night finish, na from the firewood wey the fire from.
“Till now we dey get problem because of this firewood wey them dey keep here, beside our bathroom window.
“When she cook her things finish for night, she go carry the firewood keep for my corner, for here, just here (pointing the place to TNN).
Reacting to a question on if the firewood was kept without being put-off with water, he said, “No, them dey pour the firewood water when she cook finish for night, before them carry am keep here, them dey pour am water, but still, firewood no dey quench finish like that, I believe say the firewood no quench finish.
According to him, there was an umbrella that has been in that same corner for a while now, he believes that the fire spread through the umbrella. In his words, he said, “Eh get umbrella wey dey here, maybe the firewood near the umbrella, eh come catch fire because the umbrella burn pieces, nothing remain, see the bathroom window, see wire, ceiling, nothing remain.
“This place wey them dey keep firewood na where people dey sidon, if you get visitor, you and your visitor fit sidon here, when rain dey fall too, person fit dey there do watin him wan do, we don talk tire, no dey keep firewood here, no dey keep firewood here them no gree, now see, see me see wahala, na so, me and my family for burn here for midnight.”
Jonathan said “as we dey sleep for bed I notice say my second son fall for ground, I just stand carryam put for bed, na so I dey hear fire o, fire o, my neighbor wey be pastor dey shout, then, smoke don cover our pallour, see fire, na so I start to throw my children out one by one, the four of them, na just God, watin I for talk.”
The affected apartment is a self-contained house. The compound has about eight self-contained structures and a church and they are all joined to one another.
According to the pastor who raised the alarm, “something just woke me up and I felt like going outside, when I opened my door I saw serious fire, and the thing has spread to the roof, so I started shouting, I called Oga Chima, who rushed out, other persons too, including Mr Alubi and his children, Mr Gabriel, over 50 persons came and helped put out the fire.”
Speaking also, a neighbor, Mr. Godson Iruhweli, who said he was awakened around 12:23 mid-night by a “help us scream” from the neighbour and his family, who were trapped by the fire, also added that, “my dear, na just God, and the cooperation here is very good, if not, all these buildings would have been burnt to ashes.
“Everybody came out, some climbed the roof, risking their own life, people brought detergent and there was also enough water inside the gutter. Again, NEPA did not bring light, you know that light and fire can be disastrous. We thank God for everything.”