24 hours after: Security operatives take over as dense smoke envelops Abuja mall
Twenty-four after a fire outbreak razed Next Cash and Carry, a major retail outlet in the Jahi area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, smoke was still coming out of the burnt supermarket.
When The Guardian visited the outlet, thick smoke billowed within, while there was heavy presence of security operatives and firefighters stationed around the premises.
Residents, workers and passersby were seen lurking around the outlet, which has been condoned off by security operatives, discussing what could have caused the inferno.
Men of the FCT Fire Service, Federal Fire Service, the fire units of the Nigerian Navy and Guards Brigade, and fire trucks from Julius Berger Plc are still on ground to ensure that the fire is finally put out.
The acting Controller-General of the Federal Fire Service, ( FFS), Karibo Samson, who visited the scene earlier, blamed slow response of the agency on inefficiency on the mall’s management.
At the time of going to press, there is no official comment on the cause of the fire but passersby claimed that the fire started at the upper level of the mall.
They also did not rule out conspiracy because of the presence of a stand by fire truck and water hydrant and other fire precautions.
But the Director General (DG) FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Abbas Garuba Idriss told newsmen that investigation is still ongoing to ascertain the cause of the inferno.
Idriss said his men are still on ground to put finishing touches to the investigation with the assistance of other security agencies.
MEANWHILE, The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has decried rising incidence of fire disasters in the country
Farouq, who spoke while empathising on the loss of goods and property worth billions of Naira, called for caution to avoid future occurrences.
The minister said she has since directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to help in rescue operations to salvage some of the items.
She said: “This is a sad occurrence happening on a day of celebration. It is most unfortunate for those who lost their goods and livelihood at this critical time.
“This is the Harmattan season and prone to a lot of sparks and fire disasters. We urge shop owners, traders and market dwellers to be more vigilant and endeavour to switch off all appliances before leaving their shops and market. Report any suspicious movement to security operatives.
“The fire in Next Cash and Carry is very unfortunate and we pray that this does not happen again.”