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How a family of 5 died in Lagos shop fire

Grief pervaded Ogunseye and Dipo Olubi streets, Aguda, Surulere, Lagos
State, on Thursday following the tragic death of a family of five in an
overnight fire.

The victims were a couple
identified only as Hope (wife) and Hygnius and their three children,
Ada, 9, Nonso, 7, and six-year-old Ugochukwu.

While the woman and
the children died on the spot, Hygnius, who sustained first degree
burns, died at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja.

PUNCH
Metro learnt that the fire started around 2am from a makeshift shop on
Dipo Olubi Street, where the family resided and spread to three other
adjoining shops. Hope also used the shop for laundry service and selling
confectionery.

Although the immediate cause of the inferno could
not be ascertained, it was said that the sound of explosion was heard
from the family’s shop shortly after electricity was restored in the
area.

During a visit to the community, our correspondent saw
burnt clothes, washing machine, and refrigerator, among other burnt
household items.

The Chairman, Ogunseye Residents Association,
Mr. Gbenga Orimolade, said his wife drew his attention to the incident
some minutes after 2am.

Orimolade stated that men of the Lagos
State Fire Service and the state emergency management agency joined
residents to extinguish the fire around 3am.

He said, “I came out immediately my wife woke me up. Other residents also came out and we tried to put out the fire.

“Firefighters
responded about 20 minutes after the fire started to assist us. We
could not rescue the mother and her children. The husband died in the
afternoon at LASUTH.

“I don’t know what caused the fire, but it
started 10 minutes after power was restored. The couple were from the
East; we have been trying to reach their family.”

An eyewitness,
who gave his name only as Chibuzor, said, “The fire was caused by
electrical fault. The security men said they heard an explosion from the
shop. It was very unfortunate. Hope was energetic and was the one
making all the money for the family.”

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Another resident, Abiodun Adegoke, told PUNCH Metro that he was informed about the incident on the telephone.

Adegoke
said, “We could not salvage anything from the wreckage. I saw burnt
flesh. I learnt that the couple had initially come out of the shop. The
woman went back to save the children, but was burnt to death together
with them. The husband also attempted to rescue them.

“She was
intelligent and responsible. She just paid about N100,000 for the school
fees of all the three children. It was very tragic.”

The
Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Rasaq Fadipe, who confirmed the
deaths, urged residents to promptly alert the fire service whenever
there was any fire incident.

“It might be that the laundry
machine was faulty. People should make sure that their appliances are
put off while going to sleep,” he added.

The General Manager,
Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Adeshina Tiamiyu, said the
agency received a distress call from the community around 2.38am and
responded promptly.

He said, “This prompted the immediate
activation of the Lagos State Fire Service and LASEMA’s Emergency
Response Team to the scene of the incident. Investigation conducted by
the ERT at the scene of the incident revealed that the cause of the fire
could not be ascertained. Further information revealed that the fire
affected four shops.

“A family, which comprised the father,
mother and three children sleeping in one of the shops, were affected by
the fire. The corpses were recovered and handed over to the police at
the Aguda Police Station.

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“The timely intervention of the agency and the fire service prevented the fire from escalating to other nearby buildings.”

Meanwhile,
a three-storeyed building under construction on Richard Abimbola
Street, Ilasamaja, Lagos State, has collapsed, with several persons
trapped in the wreckage while one person died.

It was learnt that the incident happened around 2pm.

A resident, who gave his name only as Ifeanyi said the construction of the building started six months ago.

“But
surprisingly, early this month, I noticed that it had been built to
that level. Six persons were brought out from the wreckage in my
presence. They sustained injuries,” he said.

One of the victims, a
bricklayer, Ope Falola, who had minor bruises, said he was at the back
of the building when the structure caved in.

He said, “My phone
battery was flat and I was trying to look for where to charge it. I was
walking along the back of the building when it suddenly collapsed. Three
of my friends were also trapped and sustained injuries.”

Another
worker, Tosin Olaniyi, said, “I was working on the fence of the
building with three others. I just heard a bang and the building came
down on us. There was no sign that the building was distressed.”

The LASEMA General Manager, Tiamiyu, said 16 persons working on the site were injured and had been taken to hospitals.

He
said, “A number of labourers were doing their various works at
different areas. Sixteen of them have been rescued and some are being
treated by the agency’s medical team and Lagos State Ambulance Service,
while some had been rushed to hospitals.

“Extraction of trapped victims is ongoing and one mortality has been recorded at the moment (10pm on Thursday).”




Punch

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