As many as 15 shops with goods worth millions of naira have been destroyed in Enugu State.
The shops were completely razed down at Agbani Road, in Enugu South Local Government Area of Enugu State.
The PUNCH correspondent gathered that the incident happened on Monday night.
The affected shops were located at the popular Afor Awkunanaw Market, also known as Garriki Market.
Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that a shopping plaza that housed electrical shops, hair salons, phone accessories, a cafeteria, and motor/motorcycle parts, caught fire at about 11 pm on Monday night.
One of the witnesses, who gave his name as Onyebuchi Omerie, said the entire building would have been completely razed but for the intervention of residents who raced to the area on time to help douse the ravaging inferno.
Omerie said that though no one could actually state how the fire started, various accounts said the inferno that gutted the shopping mall started from refuse in the gutter that someone set fire to but it spread and attacked the building.
“I don’t know actually what caused the fire incident. I heard that someone set fire to a refuse in the gutter when they closed for business yesterday and the fire spread and caught the building that housed the shops. It was also said that the fire was caused by a Suya seller who probably did not put out the fire from his oven well,” a resident told our correspondent.
He said that he lived close by and when he perceived the smell coming from the stalls, he thought that it was his generator that was producing the smoke only the discover that it was the shops that caught fire.
“I live nearby. When I perceived the smell in the night around ten or eleven in the night, I thought it was my generator but when I came out to find out, I saw the shops in flame,” the resident said.
He also said that when the Fire Service personnel came, they could not put out the fire because they lacked enough water.
“It was people that started bringing water from everywhere that were able to contain the fire from consuming the entire building,” he also said.
When our correspondent arrived at the scene of the incident, which was directly opposite Akwuke Junction, Agbani Road, sympathisers were busy trying to recover some goods from the wreckage while some others looked on aghast at the gory incident.
“What a tragedy that people should lose their source of livelihood this January and in this economic hardship,” a female sympathiser lamented.