Scores of people were feared dead and others injured when a six storey plaza in the heart of the popular Balogun Market in Lagos was gutted by fire on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigerian reports that the plaza is surrounded by several important business premises, which included the Union Bank, Diamond Bank and the United Bank for Africa.
NAN also observed that the plaza, which was being used as a wholesale and retail outlet for shoes and bags, is directly beside and attached to Union Bank building.
Investigations revealed that the fire started at about 9am and was battled by a team of combined firefighters from the Union Bank and UBA before the arrival of the Lagos State Fire Service.
Some eyewitnesses, who spoke to NAN, said some people, who jumped out from various floors of the burning plaza to escape the fire, were carried away dead.
Mallam Hamza Abdullahi, a trader in the market, told NAN that he saw three dead bodies and five people, who were wounded.
“People were shouting and jumping down from up stairs. I saw a woman dead with her skull open,” he said.
Mrs. Florence Adewunmi, a staff member of the Lagos State Ambulance Mobile Intensive Care Service, stationed at the scene told NAN that some victims had been stabilised and transferred to hospital.
Adewunmi added, “There are several casualties. We got a distress call at about 10am that there was a fire outbreak at Balogun, behind UBA.
“We proceeded here and learnt that they have rushed some people to General Hospital, Lagos, but we met some casualties on the ground.
“The patients jumped from the second, third and fourth floor and had fractures and varying degrees of injuries.
“There were those that inhaled too much smoke, so we gave some oxygen, some Dyclofenac injection; we treated ankle dislocations; we sutured deep cuts before carrying them to General Hospital, Lagos.
“So far, we have carried six people to hospital and discharged four after treatment.”
One of shopowners, who deals on female shoes, Mr Nonso Christian, told NAN that he came to the plaza at 10am and met it on fire.
“I met the plaza on fire and I tried to go in to bring out my goods but I couldn’t because the fire is too much.
“My shop is on the second floor and I just re-stocked on Monday. I don’t know what to do because the second floor is still on fire,” he said.
Several other shopowners, who were wailing while watching the fire, declined comment. One of them simply said “we are sad, this hard economy. Where do I start from?’’
A security man attached to Union Bank, Mr. Umoru Monday, told NAN that the fire started a few minutes before 9am.