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Fire at night

Posted by The Port Harcourt Telegraph on 2005/12/05 | Views: 319 |

Fire at night

Residents of Marine Base were about to go to sleep when it happened. A huge ball of fire erupted within the Plank Shed that has been the scene of several fires.

Residents of Marine Base were about to go to sleep when it happened. A huge ball of fire erupted within the Plank Shed that has been the scene of several fires.

Along the road, a team of naval ratings sat. For years, the Navy had inherited the responsibility of keeping watch over the troubled spot that a community of Okrika extraction has always wanted, and a spot that some locals say, the Rivers State government may likely have interest in.

The fire roared gaining ground. Soon, it was something else as it consumed everything along its path forcing bystanders to turn to God in prayer for the safety of those whose property was being engulfed.

The rainy season has in the last few weeks embarked on a retreat, signaling the change in season and the fast approaching Harmattan period, which takes Christendom to the Yuletide. And the naval men surprised sprang into action.
Their efforts were apparently too late.

Telegraph's Editor-in-Chief had left the office some minutes to midnight, following a power outage, to buy candles.
There was no sign of trouble.

As he made to turn into Moscow Road from the St. Cyprian's Church along Hospital Road on the return journey, the skyline turned orange. As he approached the NEPA round about it was obvious Marine Base was in flames.

At the Marine Base roundabout, a woman mumbled, "It is not the first time, let them burn it, they will not succeed. Let everything burn, God will give us the courage to rebuild."

Said the chaplain to the Okrika Local Government Council Chairman, Ibibia Walter, "What kind of thing is this? What were the Navy people doing that a fire would be set under their noses? Were they sleeping or what?"
The chaplain said that but for the alarm that was raised on time, several people would have been burnt by the flames.

"We are lucky", he continued, "that many people had not gone to bed when the fire erupted and an alarm was raised. We have not had this kind of incidence for a long time."
He was certainly right.
Monday's fire was the sixth since mysterious fires became the order of the day at the shed.

Once again, panic gripped residents of Marine Base, with many in unaffected areas packing their belongings in readiness
It was a huge blow for the government, which had done everything in the books to protect the Plank Shed, and a severe blow for the reputation of the Navy that had been on guard in the area.

At the scene, men and women wrestled with the fire, their bare hands clutching anything in sight as they struggled to salvage what was left of their wares, and to demolish sheds close to residential homes in the neighbourhood that would worsen the disaster.

The State fire service had been the first to arrive the scene, but as usual their water hoses were literarily dry.

The arrival of ELF's fire fighters raised hopes and led to sighs of relief.
At 1.00p.m, Mayor of Port Harcourt, Chief Azubuike Nmerukini arrived the scene to see things for himself and left after a while.

The extent of damage done by the fire in monetary terms is not yet known, but goods worth several millions of naira may have gone up in smoke.

Said a trader who rushed to the scene after he learnt of the fire, "I have lost everything. They have done their worst."

But who are the "they"?
The chaplain to the WALGA Council Chairman gave a little hint when he remarked that the community in the vicinity has been angling to chase out the traders so they can take over the land for their own hosing needs.

He remarked that there was another version which fingered the government.
According to him, government was interested in that piece of land as well.
His assertion raised yet another question. If government wants the land, does it need to burn the place to take over control of the portion of land?

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown