A Nigerian cobbler, identified as Bashiru, and a yet-to-be-identified commercial bus driver were burnt to death, with no lesser than 68 vehicles, houses and shops, razed down in the Ijegun area of the Igando-Ikotun Local Council Development Area of Lagos State on Thursday.
Many residents in the area also sustained severe burns and were rushed to the Gbagada General Hospital, the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and nearby private hospitals in the area by the emergency rescue workers.
The Ijegun fire explosion reportedly occurred when security operatives laid an ambush for suspected vandals, who were siphoning fuel from a punctured pipeline.
In an attempt to escape, the vandals left the punctured point open, resulting to spilled fuel all over the area, Punch reports.
One Babjide Lawal, who witnessed the incident said that there was a gunfire exchange between the vandals and the security operatives, which led to the spillage.
He said, “At midnight, we heard the sound of gunfire and people were shouting and running. But it was later that we discovered that the vandals had attacked the NNPC pipeline and were scooping fuel when the security operatives ambushed them.
“Fuel was gushing out from the tanker and the punctured pipeline and the vandals had to flee from the scene; it was the spilled fuel that caused the fire incident.”
Another eyewitness, Yusuf Ashimiu, said the explosion occurred when a motorist started his car engine, adding that the fire burnt his brother, Bashiru and the yet-to-be-identified commercial bus driver to death.
The 32-year-old said, “I was sleeping in my shop when I perceived the odour of fuel; I thought some people had stolen fuel and kept it close to my shop, so I went out with my torch light to investigate. But when I checked the gutter, I saw that fuel had filled it up and was flowing into the canal; it was around 5am and no fire had been ignited by then.
“I started warning people of the danger of scooping the fuel, but all of a sudden, an explosion occurred when a motorist, whose car had stopped working, attempted to start the engine.
“The motorist escaped with burns on his hand, but the man, who drove a bus, in an attempt to escape, ran into the canal, and my brother, Bashiru, while trying to escape after waking up, also ran into the canal and the two of them got burnt.”
Officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Lagos Ambulance Service and the Lagos State Fire Service were at the scene battling to extinguish the fire.
Chief Executive Officer(CEO), LASEMA, Dr Oluwafemi Oke-Osanyintolu, they recorded two fatalities with over 30 vehicles burnt, adding that the injured victims had been taken to hospitals for medical treatment.
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