By Christopher Oji

A-yet-to-be identified trader was said to have died while seven others sustained varying degrees of injuries in a fire outbreak that gutted a five-storey shopping Plaza at the Balogun market in Lagos.

While the body of the deceased had been deposited at the Lagos Island Hospital morgue, the injured were admitted at the emergency unit of the same hospital. Rescuers identified the injured people simply as female petty traders. Already, four hoodlums have since been arrested for allegedly taking advantage of the tense situation to loot goods belonging to the affected traders.

Yesterday’s fire incident at Balogun would be the third of such incidents at the market within the last three months. There was a serious fire outbreak at the same market on January 26, 2023. The fire gutted property at number 3/5 Gbajumo Street, Italian Plaza, Balogun.

On February 2, 2023, another tragedy struck at the Balogun market when fire gutted the topmost part of a three-storey building on number 73, Martins Street, by Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) building, and destroyed goods worth millions in the process.

Yesterday’s incident also affected the topmost floor of a five-storey building. Those affected by the fire outbreak alleged that their goods worth several millions were affected.

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Some of them alleged that they recently stockpiled their shops with goods, ahead of the Easter celebration. A trader at the affected building, John Madu, said he lost over N10 million worth of goods.

“We use the place as a store. Most of our shops are small and unable to contain all of our goods. What we do is to display a few of them, and we go upstairs to bring out more goods when a customer comes. Aside from the ones I have in my shop downstairs, almost all I stored went up in flames. I was able to salvage a few,” he added.

Another trader, Benjamin Okeke, said he was able to rescue some of his goods, but lost a good number of items to fire.

The Public Relations Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency ((NEMA) in the South-West Region, Ibrahim Farinloye, who confirmed the incident, said the fire gutted most part of the topmost floor of the building. He said officials of the state and federal fire services had contained fire.

“The number 32 Gbajumo street fire has been brought under total control. The building from the pent floor used as a store to the fifth and fourth floors had shown signs of falling due to the heat. Federal, state and LRU are on ground. No injuries were sustained in the incident. The floors had already given way. The fire also affected a three-storey building beside the five-storey house. The three-storey structure was completely burnt down.

“It affected the third, fourth and fifth floors, including the penthouse. About 350 shops are located in the five-storey plaza. Part of the building had already collapsed,” he said.