Lagos - Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Wednesday expressed sadness over the illegal importation of explosives into the country, noting that this was endangering the lives of innocent Nigerians.
Fashola said this when he visited the scene of the fire incident that happened on Lagos Island on Boxing Day, allegedly caused by firecrackers stored in a warehouse at the Idumota area.
The fire led to the death of a 15-year-old boy, injured about 40 people and left 10 buildings and 10 vehicles burnt.
"It is unfortunate for the fire to occur. Government makes rules for the benefit of all, but some people chose to break the laws. These explosives come into the country through entry points some people are supposed to watch.
"Yet, they allow such items that are regulated to come in. Must we do everything in the name of celebration? There must be safety considerations for people and the environment in anything we do. There have been too many fire incidences in recent time.
"We can reduce the number of fire incidence by keeping explosives and fuel from homes. Let us stop the dangerous business that can destroy lives and properties. Once there is an error, there would be a devastating effect.
"Sometimes, when you enforce the law strictly, some people regard the government as anti-poor. But see what had happened today, those people castigating the government policies are not here, but the poor are the ones suffering it," Fashola noted.
The Director of the Lagos State Fire Services, Mr Rasak Fadipe, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the fire started at about 9.30 a.m., through an explosion that happened in one of the buildings at Ojo Giwa St., which later spread to other buildings.
"We got the information at about 9.30 a.m. from one of our stations on the Island. We came here with two tankers, only to discover that the explosives stored in the building were flying around with fire into other buildings.
"We have to mobilise five more tankers. These five tankers have gone to refill about seven times. The fire had been difficult to put out due to the explosives spreading it. We have recorded many fire incidences during this Yuletide.
"While we are battling to put out the fire on the Island, we got report that other fire incidents had happed at Oworoshoki and Maryland. People should be careful at this time because of the dry season," Fadipe said.
Mr Ibrahim Farinloye, the Information Officer of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), confirmed to NAN that one little boy died, while 40 persons sustained injuries due to the fire.
Farinloye said that the injured had been treated and discharged, while the corpse of the teenager was deposited at the General Hospital, Lagos.
The General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, also told NAN that some buildings were pulled down in order to stop the spread of the fire as the explosives continued to explode and burn.
NAN reports that as at 5.30 p.m., when Fashola left the scene, 10 buildings, mostly warehouses and 10 vehicles had been destroyed by the fire.