Cross-River - Mr Vincent Aquah, the Director-General, Cross River Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), said on Monday that fire had destroyed property worth N500 million since the beginning of the year.
Aquah made the fact known while distributing relief materials to victims of a recent fire disaster at 70 Old Ikang Road in Calabar and described some of the fires as unwarranted and preventable.
He attributed incessant fire disasters in the state to carelessness and ignorance by most victims.
The SEMA boss, who was represented by the Disaster Assessor, Mrs Peggy Inyang, said that it was sad that the people were reluctant to heed to campaigns on fire prevention.
Aquah re-emphasised the need for people to switch off all electrical appliances when not in use and to keep inflammable material away from homes and unprotected areas.
He said the use of fire extinguishers, sand buckets and other firefighting equipment were necessary at homes, shops cafes and other public places.
Aquah said such equipment could be handy and very useful to put out fires or contain them, pending the arrival of the fire service.
He said it was surprising that some victims, rather than make efforts to put out fires or call relevant authorities for help, they preferred to make the area rowdy by shouting and causing unnecessary commotion.
The fire had destroyed three flats, two shops and a church store house and property inside them.
The agency distributed items, such as mattresses, rice, gari, beverages, blankets, buckets, cups, Jerri- cans and clothes, to the victims.
The director-general said the materials were meant to cushion the effect of the disaster on the victims.
One of the victims, Miss Abigail Eteng, expressed gratitude to the state government for the gesture and described the response as very prompt having come few hours after the occurrence.
Miss Okajah Mbu, another victim, said the fire might have been caused by an electrical fault.
She said the fire started at 3a.m on Sunday and destroyed all the buildings but that no one was hurt.
She said that the State Fire Service arrived at the scene late.