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Stats: 2,315 members, 5,866 topics. Date: September 18, 2018, 11:59 pm
A midnight fire has razed a four-storey modern shopping mall in Benin, Edo State capital.
Popularly called Phil Hallmark, the mall is located on Sapele Road.
Scores of sympathisers, including Governor Godwin Obaseki, House of Assembly members and other political bigwigs visited the scene yesterday to commiserate with the owner, Mr Philip Edigin.
A resident, Tony Kabaka, described the burnt mall as the “Shoprite” of Benin.
It is the only modern shopping in the ancient city.
Sources said the fire started at midnight and lasted till 8 am yesterday, despite efforts to put it out throughout the night.
Goods estimated at billions of naira were destroyed. The four floors, including an extension, used for administrative purposes, were razed.
Workers of the firm were discussing what would become of them, especially during the Yuletide.
Some fire service men, who pleaded anonymity, said preliminary investigation showed the inferno was caused by a wrongly connected inverter.
The government pledged to conduct an investigation into the cause of the fire.
Governor Obaseki spoke yesterday during his inspection of the mall.
The governor said investigation would be conducted into activities of the state fire service.
Obaseki, who expressed shock at the damag, described it as catastrophic and a major disaster.
He said: “This incident, happening at this time of the year, is a catastrophe. I have asked for a written report and an investigation into the cause of the fire. We will also investigate the claim by an official of the state fire service on lack of equipment.
“I understand that trucks were distributed by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the state government during the last administration.”
The governor noted that to avert a future fire at the Super Mart, all vehicles and the Super Mart would be provided with fire extinguishers.
Managing Director of the Super Mart Mr Philip Edigin said the fire started at midnight.
He said efforts to get the state fire service to come to the company’s rescue were abortive as the fire service allegedly said it did not have diesel to perform its job.
Edigin said he got help from the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) fire service, Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL), Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and University of Benin (UNIBEN) before the state fire arrived at 6 am.
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