Lagos - An oil tanker spilled its content around the Ojuelegba area of Surulere, Lagos early on Saturday, leading to a fire that destroyed four houses and several vehicles parked in the area.
It was learnt that the fuel-laden tanker was conveying 33,000 litres of petrol and fell on the railings of the Ojuelegba bridge around 2.00a.m.
Giving his own account, Rasak Fadipe, Director of the Lagos State Fire Service, said that the tanker was ascending the Ojuelegba bridge, but rolled back and spilled the content on the road.
Fadipe said that some of the spilled content went into a nearby canal in the area.
"When we came here at about 5.30a.m, we tried to dispense liquid foam into the manholes and canal to avoid fire outbreak.
"I had gone round to see the area affected by the spill. While going round, I met some men smoking Indian hemp along the canal.
"I warned them against it, that it may result to fire outbreak.
"They disregarded my advice. It was not long after talking with them that the fire broke out from there.
"If we had not dispensed chemical foams into the canal, the whole of Barracks area in Surulere would have been burnt down.
"So far, no casualties, three persons were taken to hospital as a result of shock," Fadipe said.
A resident of the area, Miss Wunmi Bolu, however, disclosed that the fire started at 4.00a.m, hours after the tanker fell at 2a.m.
"It was when they were trying to tow the tanker that the chain broke and fuel started spilling," she said, explaining that it later led to the fire.
She said that some residents who were injured had been rushed to the Randle Hospital in Surulere for treatment.
Another resident of the area, who identified himself as Mr Matore, said that his wife woke him up at about 2:30 am before the fire broke at 4:00am and had to relocate his children.
"My wife woke me up at about 2:30a.m. and said she could smell fuel, so I came out and there were many of us outside trying to know what was going on.
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"When we thought everything was fine, we went back to sleep only for my wife to wake me up again at 4.00a.m that she could hear people shouting fire.
"I quickly got up and took my children to my sister’s place on the Island," Matore revealed.
At the scene, fire fighters were present with four fire trucks, as the tanker, was later being taken off the bridge
The fire damaged properties located on Allen, Akintan, Benson, Ajoke Dosumu streets within the vicinity as a result of the spilling of the fuel.
At one of the affected buildings, three members of a family were taken to Randle General Hospital in Surulere, due to shock.
A member of the family and a graduate of Microbiology, Olashina Jinadu, said his parents and one of his brothers were in the hospital due to shock.
"We were sleeping at about 5am when we heard a loud bang and people started shouting fire, fire.
"Everyone rushed down from upstairs. We could not salvage any property. The fire from the canal was blown against our building by the wind," Jinadu said.
Commercial activities, including transportation, were grounded for hours while firemen were containing the spill and the fire.
The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, CP Fatai Owoseni, said that no arrest was made and no death was recorded.
Owoseni led a team of policemen from Area C to ensure that area boys did not loot homes.
A lawmaker at the Lagos State House of Assembly (Surulere Constituency 1) Desmond Eliot, who was at the scene, lamented the situation.
"The fire was serious to the extent that many patients on admission had to be evacuated from Igbaja Health Centre close to the scene to save their lives.
"I was sad that we lost a mother who lived at 53, Akintan St. as a result of shock.
"We have been talking about this in the Assembly, but I believe more enforcement needs to take place.
"This is a disaster. We will probably ask for serious measures on the floor of the house," Eliot said.
A resident of Makinde Street in Ojuelegba, Kayode Kadiri, urged government to seek lasting solutions to stop the perennial accidents of articulated vehicles along Ojuelegba area of Lagos.
In September, a container-laden truck fell off the Ojuelegba bridge, destroying cars and killing three persons.