Nigeria fireworks fire kills one, injures dozens

Thursday, December 27, 2012

At least one person has been killed and at least thirty were injured as the result of a fire in the city of Lagos in Nigeria after an explosion in a building with fireworks stored in it. As many as nine other buildings in the Lagos Island fire yesterday were also impacted by the flames, according to authorities. The fire was reportedly the cause of the explosion, although this is yet to be confirmed.

Some local residents reportedly jumped out of the windows of buildings in fright in the large commercial area of Jankara. One man, Wasiu Olaleye, required treatment for a cut to his leg because "I had to jump from the first floor to save my life", he said. Some local businesses were open when the incident occurred, but yesterday was a public holiday in Nigeria.

A school located in close proximity to the warehouse was significantly damaged in the incident. Numerous vehicles in the area were completely burnt out by the fire. The windows of several nearby buildings were also destroyed as the fire caused the windows of houses a few miles away to shake. Thick smoke was also sighted above Lagos.

Crowds of thousands of nearby people accumulated near the fire, with spectators and individuals intending to assist or gain information about relatives amongst them. Three fire service tanker vehicles attended the scene, but used up all their water supplies. Some people in the crowd attempted to assist fire crews with holding fire hoses and gathering water-filled containers. Some of these people were taken to hospital for treatment after experiencing injuries. One official reported military assistance was used. Additional water arrived later, as the severity of the fire slowly decreased.

The large crowds were part of the reason it took around an hour for fire service members to reach the scene of the fire. News agency Reuters was told by a government official that the possibility of further explosions from fireworks also interfered with the fire service's rescue operation. "It's very dangerous for the firemen to go in, because the government don't want any of these men to be injured", they said.

Ibrahim Farinloye from the National Emergency Management Agency reported one fatality to Agence France-Presse (AFP), saying: "We pulled out a body from the building". Nicolas Adesile, of the Red Cross, told the same news agency that as many as thirty people have been treated thus far.