No fewer than 100 stalls were razed by a midnight fire at the Uwelu motor spare parts market in Benin on Tuesday.
According to witnesses, a total of 90 shops were destroyed by the inferno.
The witnesses further revealed that the parts of the market most hit by the fire were the parts which sell Ford, Mercedes Benz, Toyota and Mazda spare parts.
Safety Record gathered that the fire which started at about 11:45 p.m was extinguished following a joint effort of the 4th Brigade of the Nigerian Army and firefighters from the University of Benin.
While speaking to reporters, Mr. Ibie Osaretin Augustine, the Chairman of Spare Parts Dealers Association in the market, disclosed that the police were currently interrogating the four security guards manning the market.
Augustine said he was informed that the fire was caused by someone burning an unknown item in a street near the market.
“I received a phone call around 11: 45 p.m. that the market was burning. I immediately called the security men on duty to ask them what was happening, but he said there was no fire and that it was someone burning something around the market.
“I insisted that I just received a distress call and it was inside the market, that the fire was burning, it was then that he walked towards the place while still on the phone.
“Then he shouted, ‘Chairman, it’s your store line that is burning please call firefighters’.
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“So I started making efforts to get fire service but I couldn’t get them. I quickly called a brother around the town to help me call the firefighters but they still did not come.
“By the time I got here from my house, the fire was still ravaging destroying the shops.
“When I saw that no help was coming from the firefighters, I tried to reach out to our local government chairman to try and reach fire brigade for us.
“Again we couldn’t get any help, it was later that we sent two of our colleagues to UNIBEN fire service, who then followed them and immediately put the fire under control and later they were joined by the firefighters of the Nigerian Army and the fire subsided.
“We thank God for their intervention otherwise the whole market would have been razed by the fire,” Augustine said.
The Chairman appealed to the government to help in rebuilding the market as traders have already lost millions of naira to the inferno.