The Anambra State branch of the Institute of Safety Professionals of Nigeria (ISPoN) has set up a three-man committee to probe the causes of a recent fire incident in Onitsha that destroyed properties worth millions of naira.
The head of the committee, Mr. Chinemerem Oguegbe, commiserated with victims of the fire incident on behalf of the institute, adding that the institute was working with the Anambra State government to forestall such incidents from reoccurring.
In a chat with Safety Record Newspaper, Oguegbe, who is also a leading member in the branch, said the committee was set up to ascertain the causes of the fire and examine the relevant environmental laws in the state.
“We had a meeting where we talked about the fire incident and we commiserated with the state government and the families that lost their properties.
“We took a look at the incident and committee was also set up which I’m heading to ascertain the immediate cause of the fire and look at the relevant environmental laws in the state to find possible means of partnering with the government to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.
“So after that, we want to bring up a model whereby we can proactively fight fire instead of reacting. These are things we want to do at the committee level.
“The state government is also trying to see the cause of the fire. And the government was saying something about filling stations that are within residential areas.”
Oguegbe stated that the institute was working to sensitize people about protecting themselves against fire but added that the battle to fight fire outbreak was everybody’s responsibility.
“It is a collective effort. Everybody should be involved.
“ISPoN as an institute is sensitizing people and trying to let people know their responsibilities to make sure that there is no fire incident in their homes, in their business places and every other place.
“As an institute part of our work is to be proactive.
“But the responsibility does not only rest on the government alone. Everybody has a role to play to avert fire.
“So that is ISPoN, Anambra state chapter’s message,” he said.
The fire incident which occurred on Wednesday night, February 15, razed a filling station, 15 vehicles and some nearby buildings along the Upper New Market Road, Onitsha.
According to an eyewitness, the fire started around 8 p.m. when an articulated vehicle laden with petrol fell inside Mobil Filling station by Dennis Memorial Grammer School (DMGS) Roundabout.
The eyewitness said fuel from the tanker flowed down the road through the drainage, leading to the spread of the fire.
The Anambra State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Nkeiruka Nwode, said three suspected hoodlums were arrested during an effort to quell the fire.
He said, “We only have five houses burnt, we have like 15 vehicles and five tricycles burnt. I really want to advise the public that they should help government for government to help them.
“Some of these shanty houses around, some of these attachments could even be what ignited the fire the more.”
The Executive Director of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Dr. Paul Odenigbo, explained that the fire service responded early enough to the inferno.
He said fire fighters from Asaba were called in to assist those from Onitsha and Okpoko when SEMA exhausted its water.
Four other fire incidents reportedly occurred in Onitsha that particular day in five different occasions across the state.