By Tony Ogbechie
Tragedy struck in Ogwashi-Uku, the ancient headquarter of Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta State as goods worth millions of naira were destroyed by a mystery fire that engulfed a booming super store in the town at the early hours of Tuesday.
The store, Sylverson Supermarket located along the busy old Ogwashi-Uku-Benin Road, is said to be the biggest in the polytechnic community, and has operated for over 25 years.
Locals said the fire started at about 3.am and spread rapidly across the supermarket, consuming everything, adding that the walls of the building even collapsed due to the intensity of the raging inferno.
According to eyewitnesses, efforts by sympathisers to salvage goods were futile, noting that firemen from the state fire service in the town were also handicapped when distressed calls were put across to them.
Engine of the operational truck of the fire fighters could not start, it was learnt.
Although, the firefighters later visit the scene of the disaster, they could not gain access to the building as the entrance door was under lock and key.
A resident in the area who craved anonymity, ruled out the possibility of electrical fault as cause of the devastating fire, pointing out that public power supply went off at about 12 midnight.
“We were awakened by explosions and noise around the supermarket at about 3 am.
“The fire was so tense that it became difficult to salvage anything out from the shop to the point that the walls collapsed. Everything inside was burnt completely.
“The issue of suspecting electrical fault cannot hold water because the public electricity went off by 12 midnight and the incident happened at 3.am.
“Again, the supermarket does not utilise public power supply, it relies on its generating sets,” the source said.
Director of the state fire service, Mr. Eugene Oziwele who visited the scene at dawn said it was premature to draw conclusion on the cause of the fire.
Oziwele said his men met a brick wall as they could not enter inside the supermarket because of the iron door that was heavily padlocked.
He explained that the explosions noticed were caused by insecticide cans, perfumes and other highly inflammable objects in the store.
Meanwhile, as at the time of filing this report, owner of the supermarket was said to have slumped when he heard about the fire outbreak and was believed to be recuperating at a medical facility.