The Anambra Fire Service on Monday lost one of its staff while fighting the inferno that gutted the Ochanja Market, Onitsha.
The Acting Director of the service, Mr Innocent Mbonu, who confirmed the death of the staff, however, refused to give the name of the deceased.
Mbonu explained that a storey building in the market collapsed on two of his staff in an attempt to stop the fire, adding that one died instantly while the other was receiving treatment at a hospital.
“Eive other persons sustained various degrees of injury while 15 shops, mostly shoe shops, were razed during the inferno,” he said.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Ali Okechukwu, said that the cause of the fire could not be ascertained.
“The governor was there. When government comes out with its report on the cause of the fire, we shall all know but the place is calm now,” Okechukwu said.
Reacting, a member of the market’s vigilance group said that the fire started at about 3 a.m. from a shop line and extended to other areas.
The security guard, who pleaded anonymity, said that efforts by the firemen and others to put out the fire were unsuccessful.
“The fireman met his untimely death when he climbed a storey building to spray water but unfortunately for him, the building collapsed and he was consumed by fire.
“Another official of the fire service broke his leg and was among the five that sustained various degrees of injury,” the source said.
An eyewitness further disclosed that a cash of N1.5 million was recovered in one of the shops and was handed over to the owner of the shop.
Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra, who rushed to the fire scene early in the day, said he would set up an investigative panel to find the immediate and remote causes of the fire outbreak.
Obiano said that he would provide a fire-fighting vehicle and other equipment and urged the traders to be calm.