Fire Service Battle Inferno To Save Atan Offot
Atan Offot, a thickly populated community in Uyo Capital City of Akwa Ibom State on Saturday, September 7, 2019 witnessed an inferno that lasted for hours until a combined team of the State and Federal Fire Services came to the rescue.
Hundreds of residents had gathered to watch as the State Divisional Fire Service, Uyo and the Federal Fire Service, Abak Road, Uyo battled for about an hour to extinguish the inferno.
Mr James Akpakpan from the State Fire Service said his office was alerted by a Police Patrol team.
The fire officer said that going by the brief, the office had to immediately mobilise two Service Trucks for the operation.
“We are happy that our colleagues from the Federal Fire Service came and supported the operation, Akpakpan added.
The team leader of the Federal Fire Service, Assistant Supt Francis Alaidogbon said they approached the operation tactfully to ensure that the fire did not spread into nearby houses.
Alaidogbon said because of its inflammable nature, they had to use a combination of water and foam to quickly tame it.
As the dry season sets in, he advised that inflammable liquids should be handled with care to avoid fire outbreak.
Eyewitnesses narrated that the fire incident started when a tanker driver came to discharge diesel at the MTN Antenna Substation located along the Atan-Obio Etoi Road, Uyo leading to Goodluck Jonathan Boulevard.
From their accounts, the discharge process was on, when fire ignited. They could not say precisely where it started, but explained that they noticed it when the driver raised alarm and called for help.
However, efforts by the driver, assisted by attendants at the Substation and some residents to put off the fire, was unsuccessful.
The fire soon went out of hand as its velocity increased and ravaged the tanker to near debris, leaving the entire area engulfed in thick smoke.
A community leader, Elder Lawrence Effiong Wilson, confirmed that the fire started during the diesel discharge at the MTN Substation.
“We have been thrown into a terrible situation. The fire has burnt not only the MTN Substation but our transformer which supplies light to two-third of our community.
“As you can see a portion of our road which Governor Udom Gabriel Emmanuel constructed for us has also been burnt and damaged.
“We appeal to the state government to come to our aid and install a new transformer otherwise we will experience power outage for a long time. The damaged portion of the road should also be reconstructed, otherwise it will gradually deteriorate.
“I want to stress that what has happened has nothing to do with the xenophobic attack in South Africa. Our community is totally absolved from whatever that caused the fire outbreak. We cannot also say precisely how it started,” Mr Wilson explained.
However, some eyewitnesses who did not want to be mentioned, blamed the fire incident on ‘carelessness’ resulting from leakage during the discharge as the lister generator at the substation was still on.
The driver and the attendants were not seen at the scene. They were said to have run for safety as soon as the fire went out of hand in other to avoid mob action.
Another eyewitness, Mr Otaso Robinson, a resident in the area but hails from Edo State, lamented that it took hours for the Fire Service to arrive the scene.
“We are even grateful to the Almighty God that the damage did not extend to houses within the vicinity otherwise, it could have been more disastrous.
The response rate of the Fire Services were very slow,” Mr Robinson sighed.