A two storey building housing an office of UBA Plc and some nearby shops on Douglas Road, Owerri, were destroyed by fire on Tuesday. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the fire, which inflicted heavy damage on the bank building and the nearby Nwaorie Lane Industrial Market, also razed an electronic shop.
Meanwhile, armed policemen guarded the area to ensure that intruders and looters did not take advantage of the situation to commit crime. However, sympathisers felt relieved that a filling station near the bank building was not affected by the fire.
A member of staff of the bank said all equipment and files in the bank were affected by the fire.
An eyewitness told NAN that the fire started about 10 p.m. on Monday from the back of the plaza and spread to other buildings.
The witness said that efforts by firemen from Orlu, Owerri and Umuahia to put out the fire failed.
The Chairman, Nwaorie Lane Industrial Market, Mr Luke Dike, explained that when he arrived at the scene, he found that efforts by traders to quench the fire failed.
Dike expressed sadness over the incident, saying that it was the second time, in two years that the area was gutted by fire.
He called on the state government and philanthropists to come to the aid of traders in the market.
“We lost so much to the fire. This is the second time that we are experiencing this type of fire. We have no idea of the cause but I am asking my people to take heart and hope for the best,” he said.
Mr Godwin Nwade, an electronics goods trader, said he lost goods worth N1.8 million in the fire.
Another trader, Mr Jonathan Nwaosusu, who sells mattresses, said he lost close to N1 million in the fire, adding that he was affected in a similar fire two years ago.
Nwaosusu said it would not be easy for him to restart the business and called for government’s assistance for the traders.