The Federal Fire Service (FFS) says a mob stopped its men from accessing the scene of Wednesday’s fire incident at Ochanja market in Onitsha, Anambra state.
Ugo Huan, spokesman of the agency, said this in a statement on Thursday.
“The Federal Fire Service received a call about the fire outbreak around 2pm,” he said.
“The control room at the headquarters in Abuja immediately turned out its nearest station at Asaba, Delta State, to attend to the fire.
“Our men immediately headed to the scene but it was not possible to contend with the heavy traffic at the Niger head bridge, coupled with the behaviour of an angry mob who pelted stones at them.
“Thus, it was not possible for the firefighters to get to the scene of fight in such a hostile environment.”
Huan also said that Liman Ibrahim, controller general of the FFS, was deeply saddened by the incident, and has expressed his condolences to the victims and their families.
He said the agency is committed to ensuring the safety of lives and properties in Nigeria.
“The service is always ready to respond to fire outbreaks and other emergencies across the nation,” he said.
“It is worthy to note that similar situations in recent past in Sokoto, Uyo, Minna, Ibadan, Osun and Lagos were prevented from escalating to a major disaster by the Federal Fire Service.
“The case of Ochanja market was an unfortunate one, as one will wonder why individuals will want to attack firefighters that came to help put out fire that was threatening lives and ravaging property.”
The spokesman appealed to the public to show support and cooperation in times of emergencies.
Five persons, including a woman and her child, died in the inferno caused by the explosion of a petrol tanker.
More than 100 shops were reportedly razed and goods such as clothing and electronic appliances affected by the fire.