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How auto dealers lost cars worth N500m to Lagos pipeline fire

Petroleum pipeline vandals triggered a morning fire that burnt exotic cars houses and shops in Lagos.   A combined team of security operatives and officials of…

Petroleum pipeline vandals triggered a morning fire that burnt exotic cars houses and shops in Lagos.


A combined team of security operatives and officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) are still going round the Abule Egba neighbourhood and taking head count of people and the number of houses burnt in last Tuesday morning pipeline fire that ravaged the community.

But, at least over 100 houses and several shops and about 50 vehicles were destroyed by fire which started from a vandalized pipeline of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at Abule Egba and Agege.

Ruth and her duaghter explaining their plight to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohini Edgal, when he visited the scene

The vehicles burnt included 19 parked in an auto sales stand belonging to Usman Hamzat. Fortunately however, a supermarket near the Samar Petrol station was spared. Aside Hamzat’s cars parked at Samar Petrol station, three other car shops were razed.

Rescue team went through scorched homes and vehicles on Thursday morning to ascertain the exact number affected. According to an unconfirmed report, 15 persons are missing as a result of the inferno but it is unsure if they are dead or relocated.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Imohimi Edgal, who made an on the spot visit to the area tasked the Divisional Police Officer to take a head count of all injured persons. He also directed that those injured be taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja for free medical treatment

Authorities attributed the damage done to property partly to the speed with which flames spread through the pipe route due to the harmattan wind.

Hamzat said about N500 million worth of cars were lost in the inferno. He said many auto dealers took delivery of new cars in November ahead to the Christmas and New Year sales but now have to contend with finding ways of repaying for loans collected to purchase the vehicles.

According to him, model of cars destroyed are mainly 2015 and 2017 Toyota Corolla, Lexus and Mercedes Benz, and that the cheapest of them was about N2.9 million.

He said it was really a nightmare when he was woken by a call from a security guard around 2am that fire had gutted the patrol station and was spreading to the parked cars. According to him, when he arrived, only two cars were on fire. “We battled to put off the fire for fear that it might spread. I quickly put a call across to the fire service, but before they arrived, the fire had spread and gutted other cars,” he said.

“Then we did not know the source of the fire because it was coming from a vent from the underground drainage. The stream of fire was so intense that we battle with it without any success. When the Fire Service men came there was little or nothing they could do. The first two water tanks they came with were emptied within 30 minutes. They tried to dampen the flame without success until officials of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) arrived. Officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) arrived an hour later. It was then that we knew that the fire started from a vandalized pipe.

It was gathered that the fire which started at a private school situated at No: 4, Segun Akinola Street, opposite Tipper Garage, near Awori Bus stop, Abule Egba, was triggered by activities of vandals, who brought in three tankers and siphoned Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

A resident, Kamoru, said the vandals dug a hole to connect their hose to the pipes but dropped it inside the drainage without shutting the valves.

The PMS was said to have circulated through the drainage to the abattoir where it apparently sparked the fire.

A resident, Stella John, said people fled their homes as soon as they heard the explosions, adding that several persons sustained injuries as a result of stampede.

She said: “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.”

The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Adesina Tiamiyu said the fire affected nine streets, destroyed 38 vehicles, four tricycles, 71 shops, 30 rooms, two blocks of flats and a church auditorium but no lives was lost.

It was gathered that the areas affected included Arowolo, Shogbawole, Adefegba, Katonwi, Santos, Taiwo Adewole, Wamon Taofeek, Owode and Akinlere streets. Others are Charity Road Junction opposite Oko Oba Market and parts of Ile-Epo.

The Commissioner of Police accused residents of complicity, adding that they cannot claim they were not aware of activities of vandals in the area.

He noted that intelligence report gathered by some security operatives revealed that the area is notorious for activities of pipeline vandals.

The police boss pointed out that: “Already, I have received credible intelligence on some of these vandals and their locations. I can assure Lagosians that very soon, I will be leading the operation to arrest some of those vandals and the reason is obvious; we will not allow the greed or unpatriotism and economic sabotage of a few to affect the vast majority of Lagosians.”

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