Fire caused by illegally refined fuel has destroyed dozens of shops, leading to the hospitalization of three people and the destruction of millions of goods in Warri.

Findings showed that the fire broke out around 10 p.m. on Wednesday and raged until Thursday in the Miller Waterside near the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) old wharf in Warri South Local Government Area, Delta State.

The scene of the fire is a stone’s throw from the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA), Warri Naval Base and the Marine Police houseboat.

The inferno destroyed several shops and makeshift homes around Warri Central Hospital, opposite the former Palnalpina company before firefighters arrived on scene to extinguish it.

Sources revealed the fire was started by a gas stove, but was amplified by stored gallons of illegally refined petrol and diesel.

A trader named Ebi, who related the incident, said they lost goods worth thousands of naira in the fire.

“We’re not really staying here, but we have a shop that was razed to the ground.

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“We got a call around 10pm the night the place was on fire so we ran downstairs but before we got here it was filled with smoke everywhere with people running into shelter trying to save their goods and wares , but it was difficult.

“I have been informed that in the course of this confusion and as it was night time, about three people were injured as they ran to evacuate some of their belongings,” he added.

He revealed that the injured were immediately hospitalized after being rescued.

The chairman of the Warri South Council, Dr. Michael Tidi, who was contacted by phone, confirmed the incident and said firefighters were on the scene quickly, but the fire was overwhelming and spread quickly as most of the houses were built on planks around it.

He said that while information about the fire was still sketchy, community leaders in the area claimed a resident of one of the makeshift homes was cooking with a gas stove from which the fire started and spread to other areas.

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Tidi said the council would work with community leaders in the area to unravel the cause of the fire, and said he had already given a hint to state governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa and the Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Special Duties, Hon. Johnbull edema.

“I have already escalated the incident to the appropriate authorities and by that I mean His Excellency, the Governor since last night (Wednesday).

“And today, of course, I have the honorable Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Special Duties, Hon. Johnbull Edema whose responsibility it is to reach the victims”.

He said the local governing council would work with the state government and the Bureau of Special Dutys to cushion the impact of the losses suffered by the traders and residents.

The city manager confirmed that about three people suffered varying degrees of injuries from the fire as they tried to evacuate their goods.

“No death report and no part of NPA was gutted by the fire, contrary to news going around. Remember that most of the houses there are makeshift and shops, but some people even sleep in their shops. Thank God no life was lost, but the livelihood of the people was lost.

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“I must commend the efforts of the Delta State Fire Department. They responded quickly to the call I made and of course the security officers were there.”

He said he cannot say whether the activities of oil bunkers in that area started the fire.

“W has yet to unravel the claims that oil bunker activities were responsible for fueling the fire,” he said.

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