Timber traders in Imo  have lamented severe losses resulting from a fire accident at the popular Timber market, along Wethedral road, Owerri, the state capital.

Some of the traders who spoke to newsmen in Owerri, on Monday, said that the inferno which started at about 1.30am on Saturday, Dec. 24, consumed over 200 shops and goods worth over N4 billion.

According to reports, the fire was still raging in some parts of the market at about 1.00pm on Monday, despite efforts by operatives of the Federal Fire Service to quench it.

One of the traders, Mr Darlington Chinaza, the Chief Executive Officer of Bekee Global Furnitures, said that about 13 industrial machines, each worth N6 million were burnt, although the actual cause of the inferno was not yet ascertained.

Another trader, Mr Chinemerem Ikerionwu, called on relevant authorities to investigate the cause of the unfortunate incident.

“People offloaded goods worth several millions last night and went home only to be called hours later that the market was on fire. This is unbearable. The government should probe this incident.

“A customer came here and bought goods worth N7.5 million. He said he was coming this morning to carry them. I don’t even know what he will do now. Will he seek for a refund? If he does that, where will the shop owner get it from?”

Also, another trader who pleaded anonymity, said: “I lost my two industrial machines and other items. We didn’t take out a single pin from the shops. Everything is lost. This is unbearable.

“It is a black Christmas for us. We don’t know where to go from here. Nobody knows the cause of the outbreak. We lost over  N4 billion here,” he said.

Mr Benjamin Onyewuchi, an eye witness, said that several initial efforts made by fire fighters to quench the fire proved abortive as it kept raging.

He, however, called on the state governor, Sen. Hope Uzodimma, to come to the aid of the victims in whatever possible way, to ameliorate their plight.

“This market provides employment for many youths and artisans as well as loaders and other casual workers.  Today, they have all been rendered jobless.

“We call on government to provide soft loans or other interventions to ease the plight of these victims, some of whom obtained bank loans to buy goods for the season’s sales,” he said.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Federal Fire Service, Zone “J” (Imo and Abia), Mr Mike Anowa, described the accident as unfortunate.

He, however, said that the actual cause and losses of the inferno were yet to be ascertained.

By Editor

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