The building, located within the Oja Oba Market, in Ado Ekiti, housed 30 lock-up shops occupied by traders.
The fire, which consumed the shops, reportedly burnt property and goods estimated at N150m.
Traders operating under the aegis of the Ekiti State Youth Traders’ Association, linked the incident to an alleged arson by unknown persons.
The Chairman of the association, Opeyemi Fakayode, said the fire started about 7.30pm when the security guard had already arrived.
He said some of the property could have been saved by men of the state fire services, but for lack of water in their tankers.
Fakayode said, “When the firefighters came with two tankers, one of them had no water, while the other one with water could not pump because it was faulty. It was after this that we called Afe Babalola University, which deployed its tanker in the scene. But the property had already been razed before the tanker arrived.
“None of us was able to salvage a pin from that place. Even the guard had arrived and was about changing his clothes behind the building when he saw huge smokes billowing out of the windows.”
“We suspect arson because one of the window bars had bent, meaning that someone must have done that for a sinister purpose. We suspected that was where they set the building on fire. It could not have been an electrical problem because our electricity had been disconnected before the incident. Even the fuse of the generator we were using collectively was intact and was put on neutral.
“Some of us just bought fresh goods to sell when the incident happened and we may end up having nothing if we don’t get help.”
In a letter dated June 20, signed by the victims and addressed to the General Manager, State Emergency Management Agency, the traders appealed to the state government for relief materials.
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