•Fire wipes out 5 kids of same parents
•Victims trapped in room locked by mum
By CHIOMA IGBOKWE and GILBERT EKEZIE
Disaster struck Thursday night as five children of the same parents were roasted by fire at No. 29 Comfort Oboh Street, Kirikiri Town in Lagos. The father of the kids is popularly known as Osuofia. The entire compound, which housed about 36 tenants, was razed to the ground.
People said occupants battled during the incident to save their own from the inferno. At dawn, sympathisers besieged the premises wailing. The ruins were wrenching with charred bodies of the dead at the spot where the fire started. Saturday Sun gathered that the fire started at 11.30 pm in the room where the five children were sleeping and spread to other rooms.
The house was made of wood. People said that parents of the deceased locked the children in the room with a candle light and went back to their shop across the street. However, while the kids were asleep, the candlelight got out of control and started spreading. While the fire raged, the kids were woken by the heat and smoke.
They shouted for help. Neighbours who spoke with Saturday Sun said that they heard the shouts of the children when the fire was raging, but they could not break through the hard burglary proof at the entrance of the room to rescue them. According to residents who witnessed the incident, men of the Fire Service were informed earlier, but they could not get to the scene on time because of the bad nature of roads in Kirirkiri, especially Dillion Street.
“The road is bad and there is always traffic in that area. But Naval Fire Service vehicle got there earlier but could not help the situation because the damages by the fire had already been much,” a resident of the area said. One of the tenants, Mr. Udoh Bassey, whose room stands partially burnt, told Saturday Sun that no one could say exactly what caused the fire.
“It started at 11.30 pm when some of us were still awake. It was the cry from that room that attracted my attention. The entire compound was razed before help could come our way. I was able to save few of my properties because my room is located far away from the source of fire. The children died because their parents locked them inside the house and went back to their shops close by. We tried, but before we could reach them, there were explosions from one room to another as all the other rooms were engulfed by the fire.”
Bassey said it took the intervention of some neighbours to save the fire from extending to a nearby house, otherwise it would have been more disastrous. Another neighbour, identified as Mama Chidi, lamented that the family had concluded plans to travel home for Christmas before the tragedy struck. “Only God knows why He allowed this to happen.
I can vividly remember when Mama Emeka (mother of the dead children) ordered her children to go and sleep as she needed to go back to attend to customers who were waiting for her. Emeka, the oldest pleaded that they should be allowed to stay outside for a while. She insisted that they should go to bed since they were to travel the next day.
I believe that it was in a bid to prevent them from running out of the house that prompted her to lock them inside and went away with the key.” Another tenant, an Hausa woman who was visibly shaken thanked God for saving her life and that of her children as they were fast asleep when the fire started. She said she was in the bathroom when the fire started and before she could rush out, it had already covered the entire compound.
“In fact, I do not know how to explain the whole situation. I was lucky that my sister noticed the fire on time and dragged my children before our room was razed. I cannot imagine how five children from the same parents should just die like that. Though they are not my children, I know what it means for a woman like me to lose her five children.
The kids are three boys and two girls. What pains me most is that some of them use to welcome me each time I returned to the house from my outing; some time, they collect my luggage and sent it inside my room,” she sobbed. When Saturday Sun visited, the parents were said to have been moved to an undisclosed location. According to a man who said he was a neighbour, they were taken away “for obvious reasons.” However, the paper learnt that they were quite devastated. One said they had lost their minds.
A female tenant, who pleaded anonymity, stated that several things had been happening around the area in the recent time and therefore called for God to intervene. “I wonder how the mother of the children would feel, losing them this time around”. I will say that this incident is satanic. People are blaming the parents for leaving their children inside the room. But they will not understand what was behind the whole thing.
In fact, so many terrible things are happening in this Comfort Oboh, Street. Last time, a child fell from the staircase and died. So, we are living by the grace of God.” Meanwhile, Lagos State Police command’s spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the incident.
She said the children were Emeka, 12; Ifeanyi, 10; Chinasa, 8; Joy, 6 and bright, 4. The charred bodies of the children have been released to the family, according to the police spokesperson.