Fire razes 25-storey Great Nigeria Insurance buildingTHE 25-storey Great Nigeria Insurance Company (GNI) Ltd House on Martins Street, Lagos, was yesterday razed by an early morning fire.
Two persons were injured and properties worth of billions naira destroyed in the fire which started from the first floor and spread to other floors of the building.
Officials of the Lagos State Fire Service and other emergency agencies battled for hours to put out the fire.
Director, Lagos State Fire Service Rasak Fadipe told reporters that his men received a distress call around 6:34 am that the building was on fire.
He said the fire trucks at Onikan Fire Station, with 10,000 litres of water were mobilised to the scene, adding that on getting there, his men discovered that the fire was huge and that the water would not be sufficient.
“We had to call for reinforcement from the Sari-Iganmu Fire Station which brought another 10,000 litres of water to fight the fire,”
“We left the island to as far as Apapa to get a functioning water hydrant. So, if you couple that with the traffic challenge, you will see that the fire keeps coming back.”
The team, he said, also found it difficult locating the source of fire as the premises had many combustibles.
“Aside crowd control challenges and the unavailability of water hydrants, we have not been able to locate the source of the fire,
“It started on the ground floor, which had many combustibles. Several cars were parked in the premises and they also led to the escalation of the fire.
“Although the structure was built as offices, most people have converted the offices to stores and warehouses.
“We also suffered from crowd control, with the hoodlums trying to seize our fire equipment from our personnel. They obstructed the adequate positioning of fire trucks and attacked fire men,” Fadipe said.
He said the fire men also brought aerial ladder used to fight fire in high rise buildings to gain access to the affected floors.
He said the first to the third floors of the building were affected, adding that the battle to put out the fire was still on at the time of filing this report.
Fadipe said his men faced crowd challenge on arrival, adding that they battled the crowd to gain access to the building.
He said the thick smoke from the building also posed a challenge to his men, who had to use breathing apparatus to enter the building, adding that the cause of the fire has not been ascertained.
Fadipe said officials of the Federal Fire Service and their United Bank for Africa, UBA, were on ground to complement the state fire service men.
The incident caused traffic grid-lock on Martins and adjoining streets as vehicles sought alternative routes out of the area.
Spokesperson, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye said the fire took a combined fire service team an estimated 12 hours to fight.
He said no life was lost, adding that one of those injured is a Senior Fire Officer of the Federal Fire Service, Obiah Onoh who was attacked by hoodlums.
As at 4pm, the fire men including those from the military and private organisations were still battling to bring it under control.
Eyewitnesses said the fire started on the ground floor, where many cars were parked.
The Nation learnt that residents in the area were able to salvage five cars before smoke engulfed the place.
When The Nation visited, those with offices and warehouses on the premises were scampering to salvage their belongings.
Some workers at the building looked confused; others who stood in clusters lamented the loss of personal effects kept in their offices.
One of the workers, Musiu Ahmed said he got to work about 7am to meet the building razed.
He said some people kept diesel on the ground floor, wondering if that could have led to the outbreak.
“You know that this ground floor is supposed to be solely a parking lot, but some people have turned part of it to warehouse. Could it be the diesel that people keep here that caused this fire?” Asked Ahmed.
Ahmed, who said his office was on the second floor, thanked God that no life was lost.
However, another fight ensued between officials of the state government and NEMA, with the Commissioner for Special Duties, Wale Ahmed, ordering Farinloye to vacate the premises.
The battle for supremacy between NEMA and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) has become a recurring decimal emergency sites, leading to the agencies not working together.