The Rivers State Government has opened investigations into likely serial fire outbreaks after two incidents destroyed substantial properties in the Port Harcourt metropolis within 24 hours.
Victims were still lamenting huge losses in Saturday’s fire that razed substantial properties, including a Church and parts of the centre of the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) in Isiokpo Street, D-Line, when residents in the Rumuagolu axis of the Port Harcourt metropolis raised alarm Sunday afternoon on another destructive fire.
The State Commissioner of Energy and Natural Resources, Peter Meede said after inspecting the level of damages, said Sunday that the reports of investigations into both incidents would unravel the actual causes.
Medee said: “There is the likelihood that it is petroleum products that are causing the fire. We cannot come to that conclusion now until there is a full-scale investigation. The report of the investigation will reveal the cause of the fire as well as the remedy to it.”
“If you watch, where the dealers of these products (black market fuel peddlers) keep them are places that are hidden. Like the fire incident that occurred in D-Line on Saturday night, that was a company premises; although the company is not in operation.
“Because the company is not in operation, it is absolutely difficult for somebody to know that the kind of activity that is going on there. That is why we are calling on law-abiding citizens to be very vigilant in their neighbourhoods. See what they can do, watch what is happening in their neighbourhood and report to the government.
“The Rivers State government has been able to set up two dedicated telephone lines for people to report unwholesome practices in the state. We have warned severally that when you see and you don’t report, when it happens, it is your own property that would be destroyed, it is your own life that will be lost.
“So, it is important for people to understand that it is patriotic for people to report these unwholesome activities. That is exactly the remedy to this situation.”
An eye witness to the Sunday incident simply identified as Onyema, narrated, “I heard an explosion so within some minutes we started seeing flames up so we ran out, some people were telling us that they are doing bunkering there and that is what started the fire.
“Many people are calling the fire service. We only had one response from the Federal fire service but apart from that one, none has come.”
At the time of filing this report, the federal fire service had been on the ground, trying to put out the fire it continues to spread to other buildings.