Five Injured As Edo Market Goes Up In Flames

By Cajetan Mmuta

A trader, identified simply as Mama Chichi, yesterday died when explosion rocked Evbuotubu Market in Egor Local Government Area of Edo State.

Five others were injured in the fire which accompanied the explosion which reportedly came from adulterated kerosene. Several traders bemoaned their losses in the fire outbreak. The woman, who died, was said to have sold the adulterated kerosene to unsuspecting customers while, three others fainted. More than 65 shops and hundreds of shanties which served as shelters for most of the market women went up in flames.

 fire-incidentThe fire outbreak came just about 10 days after a section of the popular New Benin Market located on the New Lagos Road was burnt while millions of naira worth of goods and property destroyed in the process. It was learnt that the fire started when the late kerosene dealer wanted to test the product for an inquisitive customer with a stick of match to check if the product was adulterated.

Mama Chichi was said to have brought the kerosene in many 50 litre containers and drums. Witnesses said Mama Chichi otherwise called Mama Charity had lit the match over a gallon containing kerosene when it exploded and fire engulfed the shop.

The fire spread to a nearby shop where another woman was selling palm oil. This aided the fire to spread rapidly to several other sections of the market.

Mama Chichi was said to have died from burns at an undisclosed hospital where she was rushed while others were said to be battling for survival at the hospital. The incident occurred on Evbuotubu community market day when hundreds of traders and farmers usually bring goods from neighbouring communities to the market. Those who fainted were said to have been overwhelmed by the huge losses to fire outbreak.

Traders at the market said they did not know where the kerosene dealer bought her product from. But others claimed that she might have purchased it from illegal refinery operators in the state. According to a trader, who gave her name as Madam Patience, the fire started when an unidentified customer wanted to buy kerosene and told the seller to test it.

She said: “As the woman struck the match to test it, it exploded. All of us ran away. Other gallons exploded and the fire was just spreading.

Two shops in this storey were burnt. The customer that asked the woman to test the kerosene ran away after the fire started but the seller was engulfed in fire. She was later  taken to the hospital where she died.” “The woman wanted to test the kerosene she bought if it was killer kerosene. So she took a stick of match, struck it over the gallon of kerosene and the gallon exploded

The fire also extended to the woman selling palm oil nearby. The whole market was on fire,” another witness said. It was learnt that the delay by the state Fire Service to arrive at the market made the fire to spread to other areas, including a nearby two-storey building, which was partially torched.

But the state Director of the Fire Service, Franklyn Agbonlahor, claimed that nobody died in the fire. Agbonlahor blamed the dilapidated state of roads leading to the market as major reason for the delay of his men to arrive at the scene late. He said: “Our men responded promptly. We invited other fire services and they were there. The terrain is bad. We have to pass through some difficult lanes to get to the market.”


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