ANAMBRA STATE – It was a black Wednesday in the city of Onitsha as the popular Ochanja market in was razed in flames.
At about 12:59 PM Wednesday, a trailer loaded with petroleum product lost control at Upper Iweka, along Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, in Onitsha and crashed inside a pavement in-between the expressway.
As a result, the fire spilled over through the gutter and affected many shops and houses.
An eyewitness, Emmanuel Oyema, 31, who narrated the incident as a brutal and fearful sight.
“I was in my shop when I heard some boys shouting ‘fire! fire!’, I rushed out only to see the fire moving on the road and entering peoples shops,” he said.
Another eyewitness, Ejiofor Moses, a generator parts dealer in Ochanja market said the tank carrying the fuel was coming from along Enugu Onitsha Expressway when the driver lost control and then fell inside a gutter, which caused the content to spill all over the place and sparked up fire.
The fire also razed structures including shops at Upper Iweka road and at Ochanja market.
Men of the Anambra State Fire Service arrived on the scene in good time with their new equipment and for some reason, however, they were unable to quench the fire-outbreak.
The angry mob on the scene prevented other fire trucks, including one from neighbouring Asaba in Delta State, from getting to the scene due to reason that they were already late to the scene of the incident.
The Commissioner of Police, CP John B. Abang visited the scene and spot the assessment and also appealed to the residents to remain calm.
Meanwhile, a yet to be identified woman and her baby caught up by the fire and burnt beyond recognition, were rushed to Toronto hospital but certified dead by a medical doctor.
Consequently, police patrol teams sealed off the area to prevent vandals from taking advantage to plunder while efforts were still on-going to put off the fire.
The total numbers of casualty could not be ascertained as the fire was still burning and efforts were made to put it away.
The police is still investing the incidence to unravel the actual cause of the fire-outbreak and the total damages caused.