Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 5 September 2015 | 7,117 times
Many families in Aba, the commercial nerve centre of Abia State, were yesterday rendered homeless as a huge fire outbreak from a spilled diesel burnt many houses and cars, among other items in Abayi on Aba-Owerri Road.
Though no life was lost in the early morning inferno, several residential buildings, seven vehicles and three tricycles (Keke) were burn to ashes. Witnesses put the value of the losses to the fire at about N5 million.
Four of the burnt vehicles were a 911 Lorry that was driven into a nearby compound to escape the fire, a car that had stopped at a vulcanizer’s shop to change tyre, a vehicle parked by an Umahia-based driver who takes off from Aba every morning and a car belonging to a clergy man who had come to buy feeds around the area.
Eye witnesses accounts said that the fire occurred when a recalcitrant commercial motorist tried to zoom past the diesel spilled on the road by a tanker that had come to discharge the product in a filling station along the road.
Ifeanyi Okoro and Augustine Anosike told newsmen at the scene that a truck loaded with diesel was trying to drive into a filling station along the road to discharge its content. But unknown to the truck driver, the body of the truck (tank) fell off while he was trying to revise and park, spillng its content on the road in the process.
Okoro narrated that while patriotic citizens were making frantic efforts to control the traffic, "an impatient, stubborn bus driver," cruised past the diesel.
“We suspected that the heat from the exhaust pipe of the bus ignited the fire and before you know what was happening, everywhere was up in flames. The fire raged so fiercely that some of us had to run for safety until men of the Abia State Fire service arrived the scene.”
He said the timely arrival of the fire servicemen saved the day as they stopped the fire from spreading and causing more havoc.
An Umuahia-based driver, Nnamdi Ukata, who usually parks his motor at Aba only arrived that morning to see that his vehicle has been burnt to ashes.
“I am a driver and I come to Aba from Umuahia on daily basis, but after working I will park my vehicle in this compound to go back and return the next day.
“While I was coming into Aba this morning, I saw a thick black cloud in the sky and I never knew that the fire incident was happening where I parked my car. On arrival, I saw my car burnt to ashes. I don’t know what to do. Am just confused,” Ukata said.
Another victim, Rev. Alfred Okeke, told reporters that he parked his car by the roadside to buy feed for his livestock before the incident and lamented that his car was equally burnt.
A resident of one of the affected buildings, Mr. Emmanuel Kingsley, described the incident as one of the horrific experiences he has had in recent times.
The combined efforts of the fire service who were fighting the fire and personnel of the Federal Road Safety Corps based in Aba help to restore free flow of traffic.
FRSC Aba Commander,Okora Awassam, urged truck owners and drivers to make sure that their vehicles were in good shape before putting them on the road. The driver of the truck allegedly fled away with head of the truck when he became aware of the fire outbreak.
•Photo by Boniface Okoro shows the fire raging yesterday along Aba – Owerri Road.
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