Over one thousand locked-up shops belonging to citizens of Ebonyi State at the weekend were destroyed by a mysterious fire.
The tragedy was said to have occurred during the church hours when owners of the shops were in their various churches for Sunday worship.
Investigation revealed that a nearby bush located opposite the popular Kpiri Kpiri market was set on fire by unknown persons and it later gutted the market and razed the shops.
The fire started burning from the Mechanic lines housing lots of gallons of fuel and machines, which made the fire to spread wide to thousands of shops.
When journalists visited the scene, it was noticed that many of the shop owners lost valuable items worth millions of naira to the inferno.
It was gathered that some of the shop owners who seem to be frustrated as a result of the incident, wanted to jump into the fire to be burnt but were rescued by sympathizers.
One of the Victims, Mrs Chukwu Gloria who is a nursing mother said, “I was in church when I was called that my shop was on fire and I rushed, behold, everything had been burnt down and nothing was brought out from the shop.
“I didn’t see any of my goods, I am crying because this thing happened few days after I put to bed. I’m calling on the state governor, David Umahi to come for our assistance. The waste is that, the money I’m using to trade was borrowed from somebody. I borrowed this money because I don’t know what to do after giving birth.
“I don’t trade on Sundays and that’s why I did not know how the fire started. I didn’t bring out anything from the shop. I cannot tell the amount of money that was in that shop before it was gutted by fire,” she noted
Another victim, Beatrice Nwokwu said,” I was in the yield with my sister who delivered newly and I’m also pregnant, I was called that the shops were on fire, but before we could reach, the fire had burnt everything.
“The painful part of it was that the money used in trading was meeting money she used to keep for the people. The fire started at noontime when some of us were in the church,” she noted.
Some of the victims lamented the poor response of the fire service, called but did not come on time, and even when they eventually came, they had no water to work with.
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach the officials of the state fire service failed, especially to know why they came to stop the fire but had no water in their firefighter’s tank.