Properties worth over N130 million have been destroyed after a tanker bearing 33,000 liters of Premium Motor Spirit aka fuel caught fire at Chab filling station opposite Star Paper Mill, Umuatako, Aba, in Abia State on Thursday.
A worker with Chab, who pleaded anonymity, said the fire outbreak began at about 12 noon and lasted till about 2 pm, before it was quenched by the Abia State Fire Service firemen from both Aba and Umuahia stations.
Chief Fire Officer of the Abia State Fire Service, Arua Nnanna, described the incident as avoidable.
He said that the service had warned fuel station owners to always discharge their products when the intensity of the sun’s heat was not high.
“I got a distress call in Umuahia that there is a fuel tanker fire in Aba so I had to send two trucks from our Aba station at Constitution Crescent.
“And by the time I got the second call, it was for assistance from Aba because of the intensity of the fire.
“So I pushed the trucks in Umuahia down to Aba to ensure that everything was put under control.
“As I am talking to you now, four trucks are working there, two from Aba and two from Umuahia,” he said.
Nnanna said that the fire outbreak was suspected to have been caused by the fuel station’s failure to heed earlier warnings to stop discharging fuel at the peak of the heat of the sun.
He suggested that while the tanker was offloading PMS, the weather was hot and the station did not have necessary safety materials on hand.
Nnanna thanked residents and other security agencies for their cooperation which aided the control of the menacing fire outbreak.
He also lauded the efforts of his men and described the firefight as one of the fiercest his men had taken part in recently.
The Commander of Abia State Fire Service, Aba Command, Belenta Belenta, said that the intensity of the fire was beyond the capacity of the Aba command, hence the request for assistance from Umuahia.
“We got the information and rushed immediately with my men. The tanker was discharging and from that discharge, it resulted in a fire outbreak. The tanker was loaded with 33,000 litres of PMS.
“We battled the fire with the assistance of our main station in Umuahia. And we quenched it possibly with the type of chemical we had.
“We are appealing to the government to come to the fire service office to see what we really need to ensure that we will continue to serve better.
“If not that we have capable men who could manage fierce fires, we couldn’t have done much because we do not have enough equipment for this type of fire,” Belenta said.
NAN reports that office equipment and products at the business centres within Umungasi Post Office were destroyed by the fire.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia also visited the scene of the fire to assess the situation but he did not speak about the fire incident.