Property estimated at several millions of naira was on Tuesday evening destroyed by fire in Calabar, Cross River State capital.
The incident occurred at a gas refilling plant along MCC Road, close to Effio-Ette junction at about 6pm.
An eyewitness, who gave his name as Matthew, said that he and others were watching football around the area when they heard a heavy explosion.
“We were watching football in the neighbourhood when we heard heavy explosion from the gas refilling plant and we rushed in to help as there was no help from the fire service.
“People ran to the place and collected detergent from people’s stores, poured it into water and emptied it on the flame of the fire and that was how we were able to put out the fire,” he stated.
He said some persons sustained various levels of injuries and were rushed to the hospital.
“I saw two persons being rushed to the General Hospital as a result of burnt. We prayed that they should not die,” he said.
Matthew lamented that the fire would not have been so devastating had the fire service responded.
“In fact, we called the fire service but they said outright that they have no functional equipment to fight fire,” he added.
When DAILY POST called the Public Relations Officer of the State fire service, Mr Cletus Makper, on Tuesday night, he said, “We don’t have anything in case of any fire disaster or emergency.
“We are not funded and we cannot carry out any rescue of any kind in that place.”
He called on the state government to come to the rescue of the service with a view to providing functional equipment to fight fire.
“Over a year or two, nothing has been done in this place to serve the public in case of fire outbreak.
“The place has not been funded and there is nothing that we can do and if there is any serious inferno.
“However, we are hopeful that government would come to our aide by providing us with equipment, we have trained fire fighters in the service but what we need is equipment. We appeall to Governor Ben Ayade to come and assist us,” he pleaded.
He said the service would embark on aggressive public enlightenment program to train the people on means of preventing fire.
Reacting on the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ms Irene Ugbo, confirmed the incident but said “Only one person who went to the roof of the place to put out the fire sustained minor injury and was rushed to the hospital”.