8th March, 2013
At least 300 shops were razed to the ground on Thursday night and millions of naira went up in flames at a Ketu market during an inferno that lasted more than three hours.
The fire started at the Ifelodun Plank Market in Ketu, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, at about 9 p.m. and raged until 12 midnight, burning everything on its path, including a mosque and part of a church.
The cause of the fire was not known at press time.
The victims lost everything in just few hours. One of them, Fatai Ayinla, stood speechless in front of his burnt shop, unable to save anything and unsure he could start all over again.
He had left the shop in the evening Thursday and had planned to return Friday (today). But on Thursday night, everything was gone.
“I lost everything in just minutes,” he said.
“That was my machine there. That was my generator there. This is where I kept my planks. This was the entrance to my shop,” he added, pointing at the debris.
“I don’t know where to go from here.”
Sulaiman Abiodun also lost everything. He said fire had started on Wednesday in one of the shops but was promptly put out with buckets of water.
“We did not know it will occur again on Thursday. Fire started at the back of the market on Wednesday but we put it out,” he said.
“On Thursday at about 9 p.m., we learnt that there was fire again. We rushed to the market but there was no way I could gain access into my shop because of the fire. I could not save anything. Everything is gone,” he said.
For Bola, another shop owner in the market, there were at least 300 shops at Ifelodun Plank Market, but she added: “Everything has been destroyed.”
Many other shop owners narrated similar stories of losses, pain and helplessness.
The first team of fire fighters arrived shortly after the outbreak but the water was not enough as the fire spread to a wide area.
The second team arrived at about 10 p.m. and tried in vain to stop the inferno. Many other teams arrived afterwards. Some even returned in the morning as the fire continued to burn.
Building materials such as planks, nails, padlocks and roofing sheets are sold at Ifelodun Plank Market. The market was razed about two years ago by fire but was rebuilt.