Less than 24 hours after multiple fire incidents in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, another fire outbreak has occurred at a popular jetty in the Creek Road area of the state capital.
The inferno which occurred at about 10am on Monday at the ever busy Nembe/Bille/Bonny jetty killed a yet-to-be-ascertained number of people including children and women.
SaharaReporters learnt that the fire destroyed about seven boats and other items worth millions of naira.
Witnesses at the jetty alleged that a man suspected to be a loader on one of the boats was seen smoking cigarette which ignited the fire.
One of the witnesses who didn’t want his name mentioned said that all the affected boats were laden with inflammable substances like fuel and diesel which quickened the spread of the fire from the waterfront to the upland, burning everything at sight.
He said, “A woman watched helplessly as her four children were trapped in one of the ill-fated boats while another woman with her three children was burnt by the fire.
“The fire started at 10am. Some of those boats came from Bayelsa and Bille. Loaders were busy offloading goods from the boats and one of them was smoking cigarette. It was the cigarette that actually ignited the fire.
“About seven boats are involved in the accident. I can’t give you the exact figure of the casualties because, as you can see, all the affected boats have been burnt to ashes.”
Another witness said that a number of victims were rushed to an undisclosed hospital for urgent medical attention.
On his part, the Chairman of the Flying boat, Nembe waterfront, Mr. David Teke warned that on no account should any worker or boat driver be allowed to smoke or drink at the jetty.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State Government has threatened to confiscate any property in the state used for illegal oil bunkering activities and to also prosecute their owners accordingly.
The state Commissioner for Special Duties, Emeka Onowu, stated this on Monday during an on-the-spot assessment of the damages caused by the Saturday night fire outbreak at Isiokpo street, D-Line as well as that of a similar incident on Sunday morning at Rumuokoro community in Obio/Akpor LGA of the state.