Umuahia - The Abia Fire Service has threatened to sanction owners of filling stations who failed to comply with minimum safety measures.
The Director of the organisation, Victor Gbaruko, made the threat on Sunday while confirming Saturday’s fire that gutted a filling station in Umuahia.
Gbaruko blamed the inferno on the failure of the station, known as Easy On Nigeria Ltd located on Umuwaya Road to take precautionary measures against fire outbreak.
He said it was mandatory for filling stations to inform the organisation each time they were to discharge products and also keep suitable fire extinguishers in the stations for internal controls.
He noted that Saturday’s fire threatened buildings in the neighbourhood but expressed happiness that his men brought the situation under control within 15 minutes.
Eye-witnesses that the incident occurred around 7 p.m. when a tanker discharging premium motor spirit caught fire.
The fire was said to have ignited when an unidentified tricycle rider attempted to start his machine near the fuel pump after fetching petrol.
"When the operator finished buying fuel, he was advised to push the keke away from the pump before starting it.
"But the man ignored the advice, got into the keke and pulled the starter which caused sparks of fire from the exhaust pipe, leading to the fire,’’ the eyewitness said on the condition of anonymity.
The keke operator was said to have zoomed off immediately the tanker caught fire.
The inferno lasted for more than 15 minutes before the intervention of the fire fighters, the witness said.
No casualty was recorded in the inferno, which caused panic among residents of the neighbouring buildings.
Two residents of the area, Kingsley Igwe and Austin Nwamuo, contended that the station was "wrongly" situated and called for its relocation out of residential area.
They thanked God that the inferno did not spread to the neighbouring buildings, saying that it could have been more devastating.
Gbaruko also confirmed Saturday’s fire that destroyed Golden Guinea Brewery on Aba Road, Umuahia.
He said the fire occurred around 1 a.m. and damaged the store housing some equipment.
He said his men were deployed to the area, adding that the fire was also brought under control before spreading to the neighbourhood.
He said the cause of the fire would not be unconnected with electricity fault but maintained that proper investigations would be carried out to ascertain its cause.
The brewery has been moribund since 2003 following an explosion that rocked its brewing section, throwing its workforce into the labour market.
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