Many traders are bitterly grieving over their losses after a midnight fire ravaged the well-known Oyigbo Timber Market in Oyigbo Local Government Area of Rivers State.
It was learnt that the fire, which occurred about 2am on Thursday, destroyed property including sawing machines and power generating sets worth millions of naira.
The fire was reportedly caused by an illegal electric connection which made the line to spark off when power was restored to the area.
Most of the affected traders lamented that everything they had struggled to achieve for many years were lost to the inferno.
One of the victims, who declined to give her name, said she heard a deafening sound followed by the fire and thick smoke billowing into the atmosphere, lamenting that the market was the only means of survival for many traders and their families.
“It was when power was restored (that the fire broke out) because I live close to the market. I heard a loud sound and the next thing was fire and it was spreading fast.
“A lot of engines, sawing machines, planning machines and generators were destroyed. They were all damaged and we are left with nothing. This is the only thing I do to train my children in school,” she said, while fighting back tears.
Another victim, identified as Okereke, said he had been traumatized since the incident, adding he did not know where to start from.
“Please let the government come to our aid because we don’t know what to do again. All our engines have been burnt. We don’t know how to start. Let the Oyigbo local government authority and the state government come and help us start our lives again,” he said.
A resident, who gave his name as Chuks, told newsmen that the area affected was the sawmill section housing machines.
“Over 20 machines were burnt to ashes. It was because of a faulty electric connection. So when light was restored it resulted in a huge spark and fire started spreading,” he said.
The affected traders lamented that several attempts made to call the fire service to salvage the situation were unsuccessful as they did not turn up.
Some of the items destroyed include sewing machines, sawing blades, planning machines, craving and circular machines, and generating sets.
The spokesperson of the state police command, Grace Iringe-Koko, promised to gather information about the incident and get back to our correspondent, but she had yet to reply as of press time.