Properties worth several millions of naira were destroyed on Monday morning in a New Year fire blaze in Port Hardouer, River state.
The fire, which started at about 5am, was reportedly caused by some recalcitrant persons who set a heap of condemned motor tyres afire around Njemanze Street, Mile 1 in Diobu area of the city.
At least one petroleum tanker was burnt to ashes in the resulting blaze, which caused panic around the area.
Workers at Vintage Press Limited, publishers of the The Nation titles, and other residents were caught in the panic, because of fear that the fire could spread to the company’s premises opposite the scene.
The fire spread for several blocks reach as far as Nsuka and Okoroma streets.
Residents of nearby parts of the suburb were seen fleeing the area with their valuables documents and property.
“Our fear was due to the heavy presence of petroleum tankers awaiting their turn to load at nearby jetties. Njemanze is usually filled with those tankers and there was the fear that a chain of explosion will cause disaster.
“Our fears heightened when one of the petrol tankers parked around the vicinity was caught in the fire and it started spread to others.
“Our attempts to mobilize firefighters were not successful because at the state fire service, there were no personal in ground. When we got to the NPA fire department the workers rebuffed us, they plainly refused to help because ‘it is not their jurisdiction’” one of the eyewitnesses told our reporter.
However it was gathered that spirited efforts by passers-by and other public spirited individuals in the area, including staff of The Nation helped to contain the fire and averted what would have been a major Yuletide disaster for residents.