A popular mall in Owerri , capital of Imo State named , Umuororonjo Shopping Plaza was , on Thursday , consumed by Fire .
The fire , whose cause has not been ascertained as at the time of filing this report, was said to have gutted goods worth over N1 bn .
The one-storey shopping plaza had over 40 shops that sold computers , mobile phones and other electronics gadgets .
There was no recorded human causality , however.
An eye witness who lives opposite the mall told our correspondent at the scene that the fire started at about 5 .10 am on Thursday .
He stated that all efforts to quench the fire failed.
He said, “We started seeing smoke from one of the shops on the first floor of the building . We raised the alarm and people started gathering immediately.
“ All our manual efforts to use water and detergent to quench the fire did not succeed .”
The eye witness added that they called the hotline of the Fire Service in Owerri , but that their response was unimpressive .
“ We were there until 8am when more people , including passers-by, gathered , but by then , the inferno had gutted all the shops . ”
One of the shop owners, Mr. Sampson Ochia, who sells computer and its accessories , said he lost over N20 m worth of goods .
The confused Ochia, full of tears , added that he recently secured a N15 m loan the bank , using his undeveloped land at World Bank in New Owerri area as collateral.
Crying , he queried “Where do I go from here ? What becomes my fate from today?”
Another victim, Clement Ajoku, said that he had over N50 m worth of electronics in his shop .
Ajoku (63 ) , who said that all his family members fed from the shop , contended that it is only God that can save him and family from the dastard situation .
He sobered , “ What will I be doing now? My life has changed from worse to worst. How will I get money to re -start my business in this cantankerous Imo state and Nigeria at large . A business I started when I was 32 had gone ”.
When contacted on phone, the Director of Fire Service Owerri , Mr. Japhat Okoroafor confirmed that he was called on phone by a group of people on the fire outbreak .
He said , “We have only one serviceable fire fighting vehicle in our office . That vehicle was used to fight a fire on Tuesday somewhere in Okigwe area, but it broke down during the return journey .
“ Since then , I have written memos for its repair , but there has been no official response so far.
“ Now that there is another emergency, there is no other fire fighting vehicle. In fact , the situation is helpless. ”
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