By SUMAILA OGBAJE
ABUJA- The Director-General of FCT Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Alhaji Abbas Idriss, has condemned the attack on the fire service men and vehicles that responded to a fire call at Enya filling station, Halli Brothers, Wuse Zone 1 Abuja on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the filling station went in flames at about 7pm when a a fuel laden tanker parked within the premises caught fire.
The fire which lasted for about two and a half hours razed down the filling station. It was reported that no life was lost, while virtually all vehicles queuing for fuel were safely evacuated except few ones affected by the heat of the fire.
Idriss told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the impact of the fire would have been minimized if hoodlums had not prevented the fire service men from accessing the filling station.
While expressing worry over the unfortunate incident, he wondered why individuals would want to destroy fire trucks procured for the purpose of extinguishing fire and the safety of lives and property.
An eye witness, who identified himself as Ishakku, had earlier said that crowd began to gather upon explosion from the tanker, with smoke billowing out from the burning station.
He said that the fire had burnt for almost an hour before the fire service operatives came and the crowd mixed with hoodlums had become impatient.
He said that the hoodlums, on sighting the fire service vehicles began to throw stones, sticks and other materials at them.
According to him, the first two fire vehicles that arrived at the scene early could not wait because they were attacked.
”The officers with their vehicles have to run for safety, which made the fire to cause more damage at the filling station.
”Had it been the fire service trucks were not attacked and the men were allowed when they came, the damage would have been minimal.”
He said it took the combined intervention of military officers, police, DSS and other security personnel in FCT to disperse the crowd before the fire service men could gain access to the filling station.
The FEMA director-general, who was at the scene of the incident to assess the impact, described the act as barbaric, adding that it was a serious offence punishable under the law.
”The fire service came to extinguish the fire and they were being attacked they can’t stay and you can see the damage caused
”Hoodlums are attacking them (fire service men) it is a very seriously offence that must be addressed , and such act must be discouraged across the country.
Idriss stressed the need for public to be enlightened on why they should not prevent or attack fire service men or vehicles who came for operations.
”If hoodlums are throwing stones and injuring them, they can’t stay, it is very important that the public are aware on the importance of the service of fire official and other agencies.”
The director-general also sought the support of the media in sensitising the public on the operation of fire service men and emergency management officials
”It is very unfortunate generally we have been having filling station fire in the FCT, but we have been doing everything to nip it in the bud,” he said.
He commended the FCT police commissioner, FRSC Sector Commander, the military, DSS and other sister agencies for timely intervention and well coordinated efforts to control the crowd without loss of life and to also put the fire under control. (NAN)