The Federal Fire Service (FFS) has accused the mob that gathered at Ochanja Market in Onitsha, Anambra state of stopping its men from accessing the fire scene.
In a statement released on Thursday October 17, the agency’s spokesperson Ugo Huan said it was not possible for its firefighters from the nearest station in Asaba to fight the fire in such a hostile environment.
The statement read “The Federal Fire Service received a call about the fire outbreak around 2.00 p. m.
“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.
“The Federal Fire Service is committed to ensuring the safety of lives and property, with the procurement of new state-of-the-art firefighting trucks distributed to the 12 zones of the service across the nation.
“The service is always ready to respond to fire outbreaks and other emergencies across the nation.
“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 the Ochanja market was an unfortunate one, as one will wonder why individuals will want to attack firefighters that came to help put out the fire that was threatening lives and ravaging property,” he said.
Huan added that “the service will like to use this opportunity to appeal to Nigerians that in as much as the fire service is prepared and committed to saving of lives and property in emergencies, their support and cooperation is highly needed to do that.”
Reacting to report of five people including a mother and her child dying in the inferno, the FFS Controller General Mr Liman Ibrahim said he was deeply saddened by the incident and also expressed his condolence to the affected families.