By Evelyn Usman
Tragedy struck yesterday in Bariga area of Lagos after an owner of a pharmaceutical shop, Mr. Kenneth Eze, his pregnant wife and two children were burnt to death in a fire that engulfed their bungalow building.
The exact cause of the inferno, which occurred at about 2a.m. could not be ascertained. But some residents of Buriamoh street stated that it was caused by power upsurge while others claimed that it was by candlelight.
The Ezes, according to residents ,were last seen at about 10.30p.m. Monday.
A woman, who gave her name as Mama Ibeji, told Vanguard that she was the last person to patronise the family that night.
According to her: “ When I got to the shop to get some pain relief medicine for my ailing son, they were already closing for the day. I saw their two children sleeping.
“I gave them N500 but they suggested that I should either bring the money tomorrow (today) or leave it with them and come for my balance the next day. I took the money with a promise to bring the N220 to them today. But to my shock, the unthinkable occurred .”
The fire was said to have started from their pharmaceutical shop located on number 13 of the street while Eze, his pregnant wife, Sarah and their two children of ages five and eight were sleeping.
Another resident, Mr. Ezenwa Uche, told Vanguard: “Perhaps, they all would not have died had there been other tenants in the compound with them. From all indications, it was obvious that they all slept inside the shop where the fire started from.
“We were alerted by the shout of fire at about 3a.m. Though we tried there was nothing anyone could do to salvage the situation because the fire had extended to the main building.”
“From the positions of the charred remains, it was obvious that Kenneth carried one of the children and attempted to escape, as the bodies were seen in that posture,” Uche added.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, Chike Oti, a Superintendent of Police confirmed the incident. He said: “The family lived alone in the building. The fire consumed the bungalow and the shop.
“Policemen, firefighters and other rescue operators, who were mobilised to the scene, prevented the fire from spreading to other buildings.”
On his part, the Lagos State Director, Fire Service, Rasaq Fadipe, said that the incident occurred at about 2.48a.m., adding that the double burglary irons on the door and windows of the apartment prevented personnel of the Fire Service from reaching out to rescue the victims on time.
Speaking through the Service’s spokesman, Amodu Shakiru, he said: “ The apartment is a chemist store. The father, mother, and two children of ages five and eight were found dead inside the store.
“We advise that although one needs security in his or her house or business place, it should not be to the detriment of the people.
“Family members should always know the exit points in their apartments whenever there is an emergency.”