Over 50 cars, including 19 parked in a car port belonging to a dealer, Usman Hamzat as well as about 100 houses and shops were completely razed by pipeline explosion that stretched from Abule Egba to Abbatoir in Agege, Lagos on Wednesday.
A 38-year-old widow, Ruth Joseph, her son Samuel and at least three other persons on Wednesday sustained severe burns in the incident.
Aside Hamzat’s cars parked at Samar Petroleum station, our correspondent gathered three other car shops were razed.
The fire, which started at about 2am in front of a private school at 4, Segun Akinola Street opposite Tiper Garage near Awori Bus stop in Abule Egba.
It was said to have been triggered by activities of vandals, who brought in three tankers and siphoned Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
Narrating how she was burnt, the widow said they were sleeping when she heard a loud sound and people screaming.
“We were sleeping when we started hearing shouts. I woke up and saw fire inside my home with plenty heat.
“The first thing that came to my mind was to rescue my children. I was able to get the other two out unhurt but when I went for Samuel, the fire caught up with us.
“I am a poor widow and do not have money for hospital. That is why I am happy the Police Commissioner has directed my son and I be taken to General Hospital Ikeja for treatment.”
According to residents, the vandals who dug a hole to connect their hosts to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)pipelines had dropped the host inside the gutter without shutting the valves.
The PMS was said to have circulated through the gutter to Abbatoir where it sparked fire apparently as a result of activities of early morning butchers.
What followed were sounds of explosions with fire gutting every property along the path the PMS traversed.
Areas affected by the pipeline explosion included Arowolo Street, Shogbawole, Adefegba, Katonwi, Santos, Taiwo Adewole, Wamon Taofeek, Owode and Akinlere streets.
The inferno following the pipeline explosion also spread through Justrite Shopping mall, Samar Filling Station to the canal nearby Agege Abbattoir.
Others include Charity road junction opposite Oko Oba Market and parts of Ile-Epo.
A woman, Stella John said people fled their homes as soon as they heard the explosions, adding that several other persons sustained injuries as a result of stampede or occasioned by confusion.
“I did not care to pick anything. The first thing that came to my mind was to run to safety. People were wailing, running in different directions. So many people sustained injuries.
“It is not true that people were scooping fuel. If at all people did something like that, maybe they were those who did not witness the December 26, 2006, where hundreds of people scooping fuel were roasted alive,” she said.
Lagos fire service personnel were still there putting finishing touches on the remaining fire to avoid burning further.
General Manager Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) Adesina Tiamiyu, Police Commissioner Imohimi Edgal and officials from NNPC, other agencies visited the affected areas.
The Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS), Tunji Disu,an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), was on the spot with his men preventing hoodlums from looting victims’ property and money when they ran for their lives.
Personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Red Cross officials were also on ground.
According to Tiamiyu, the fire affected nine streets,destroyed 38 vehicles, four tricycles, 71 shops, 30 rooms, two blocks of flat and a church auditorium.