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Fire guts property worth millions in naira in Rivers

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Amaechi Okonkwo, Port Harcourt

An early morning inferno at Okwelle Waterfront community of Rivers state has destroyed property worth millions of naira. 

Reports have it that over 40 makeshift houses were razed, with over 100 occupants including children rendered homeless as a result of the incident which exact cause has been a subject of debate.

While some persons suspect that the fire may have started from a lit candle in one of the shanty houses, some others said it was from a kerosine stove that was lit and mistakenly locked in a room.

No life was lost, but properties worth millions of naira, mostly electronic gadgets, were reportedly destroyed in the fire which occurred about 7.30 am on Tuesday, August 11, 2021.

Most of the residents of the houses were said to have been away to their workplaces and businesses before the fire started and as such, were not able to rescue any of their belongings.

One of the victims, 27-year-old Grace Udeh, a hair dresser who rushed back from her workshop after her room in the two-plot expanse of land had already been razed, told journalists that she had no other property left, except the clothes she wore to work.

She said, “I had already gone to work before the fire started. My shop is not far from the house and so, when I saw the thick smoke at first I thought it was the National Security & Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, officers burning petroleum products, until someone informed me that our compound was on fire.

“When I rushed home, the fire had already spread to the area my house was; our room had burnt down, everything. I live with my younger sister and our certificates; all our belongings had burnt. We could not save anything, as I stand now, except for what I am putting on now, I have nothing left.”

She appealed to the state government and well-meaning individuals to come to their rescue, by extending hands of care to them.

Efforts by neighbours and local security service of Port Harcourt local government area (PHLGA), reportedly yielded little or no efforts and the fire continued to advance as they fought. However, it was finally put out by men of the state fire service which saved it from spreading to other houses around.

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