Property worth millions of Naira were destroyed as fire disaster gutted some shops and houses at Bishop Okoye Street, close to Mile Three Market, in Port Harcourt City Local Council of Rivers State.
Also, a separate fire outbreak left scores of residents homeless at Chief Odum’s axis of Ogunabali in Port Harcourt, as makeshift houses got burnt.
The two fire outbreaks, which occurred on Friday, destroyed over 10 shops and warehouses, as well as 20 makeshift buildings. The victims are calling on the state government to assist them. Hoodlums had a field day during the inferno, which raged for hours.
At Bishop Okoye Street Market, foodstuffs, including bags of rice, beans, garri and drinks, were lost, while hoodlums carted away some.
One of the victims, Onyebuchi Michael, said the fire at Mile Three was allegedly caused by an electrical fault in one of the shops.
He said: “We suspect the fire was as a result of a spark in one of the shops. Thank God the Fire Service came promptly. The first truck of water was not enough. People around also helped to put out the fire.”
Some landlords and business owners, whose property were affected lamented the incident would worsen their plights, especially with COVID-19.
Chairman of Bishop Okoye Shop Owners, Uche Okeke, decried looting by hoodlums, saying: “The crowd was excess. Many people here are not traders. Some of them are hoodlums. They only came to break into people’s shops to steal their goods. The fire was mysterious.
“We have not taken stock of the number of shops burnt. But, all warehouses on Bishop Okoye Street foodstuff market were burnt…”
Okeke said the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Mile Three had visited with his men and even called for a back-up because of the crowd and hoodlums.
The State Police Command’s spokesman, Nnamdi Omoni , confirmed the incident, saying investigations were on to unravel the cause of the fire.