From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
Hundreds of persons have been rendered homeless, following a fire outbreak that razed down houses in Egwurugwu Street in Rumueprirkom Community, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
It was gathered that the fire which started at about 9pm eve of Christmas was allegedly caused by a mentally ill woman resident in one of the affected houses.
On a visit to the incident scene same night, The AUTHORITY gathered that the houses which were mostly batcher, gut fire when the mentally sick woman ignorantly allegedly ignited fire very close to adulterated fuel and kerosine stored in her house.
It was gathered that when the fire started, neighbours in the area, including the residents of the houses tried to put off the fire but being wood houses and haven been well dried by harmattan, the fire went fast that it also affected a story block building belonging to a Deeperlife Bible Church family who all travelled for the church Christmas retreat.
A popular church in the area, Grace Apostolic Faith church, was also razed by the fire.
Some victims of the fire that spoke with our correspondent disclosed that about four years ago similar incident occurred in the same place during same Christmas eve period. They lamented that the current fire incident was caused by a mentally sick woman in one of the houses in the large compound.
They also cried out that they have lost so much properties worth millions of Naira in the fire incident.
Gloria, a native of Egbeda in Emohua LGA but residence in one of the affected s lamented “I live in the burning house. I did not remove any my properties. I went to the bathroom to take my bath only to come I saw my room was on fire. When I heard the shout of fire I rushed out of the bathroom went straight inside my room not minding the fire, entireed inside and collected the money I sold for the day in my business.
“I even bought Omo N200 to put off the fire, no way. My younger brothers travelled home today so nobody helped me. I did not remove any of our properties, we lost everything in the fire.
The fire was caused by one of our neighbours that is mentally sick. They sell Kerosine and fuel for survival but they know that this houses are batcher and could have removed it from the room to a safer place but they kept it inside one of the rooms. The woman mistakenly caused the fire incident”, she lamented.
Another victim, John Monday, said “We thank God nobody died in the incident. We may have lost all our belongings in the fire but we are alive. I did not remove anything from my room”.
However, nobody death was recorded in the incident that lasted for about two hours. There was also tight security by Operation STING team to prevent any attempt of looting by hoodlums.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Fire Service was also prompt on contact by residents of the area. After about two hours, the fire was put out by the fire fighters at about 11:17pm, thereby preventing the fire from extending to other block buildings on the street. They also, stopped the fire from Completely destroying the one story building affected by the fire.