Properties worth millions of naira were destroyed in a fire outbreak at the oil mill market along Aba Road in Port Harcourt, on Saturday.
Though the cause of the fire was not immediately ascertained, it was learnt that it started in the morning when traders were still in their houses.
The oil mill market is a popular mid-week market situated in the Rumuokwurusi community in the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state. The market attracts traders bringing their merchandise from neighbouring states on Wednesdays.
An eyewitness said the fire, which started at about 6.45am, raged for many hours before fire-fighters arrived at the scene.
Some of the affected traders lamented the impact the inferno would have on their business, just as they called on the state governor, Nyesom Wike to come to their aid.
A middle-aged woman, who simply gave her name as Ebere, said she was still asleep when she heard about the fire.
“This morning, I was still sleeping when I received a call that the market was on fire. When I got there, all my goods and those of others have been destroyed.
“A trailer load of yam, garri and charcoal which we offloaded all burnt. Women are crying because all that they have been using to manage have been lost.”
Another victim, a widow, cried uncontrollably, saying she borrowed money to purchase the goods in her two shops, which were burnt.
“I am a widow, my husband died in 2007. I borrowed the money that I used in buying things and I am still paying interest.
“My two shops and all the tubers of yam I bought have burnt to ashes. Who is going to help me? How do I pay back the money I borrowed?”
Speaking on the incident, the Chairman of the Community Development Committee, Rumuokwrushi, O. C Wosu, said the cause of the fire was still unknown, even as he expressed happiness that no life was lost.
“I got distressed calls from many traders calling me that some sections of the oil mill market were on fire.
“I quickly called the fire service. As God will have it, the Total E&P Fire Service and the Shell Fire Service came, and they were able to contain the fire.”
cc: Punch Ng