An early hour mysterious fire, yesterday, claimed the lives of a man, his wife and four-year-old daughter along the ever busy Katsina-Ala Street, in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
Vanguard gathered from an eyewitness that the victims, Terhemba Makaar, a senior official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, and his two family members were roasted in the inferno before help could reach them.
According to the witness, Mrs. Terwase Ormye, who is a neighbour to the victims, “the fire started at about 2 am. We were suddenly woken by shouts of ‘fire’ from the house.
“We heard someone screaming ‘help me! help me! The flame and smoke were too much and the house had only one door with burglary proof so it became very difficult for anyone to go in and rescue them.
“While some of us were busy pouring water on the building to put out the fire, the few hands available struggled to break a portion of the house when the inferno was still raging.
“Unfortunately, when youths in the area succeeded in breaking into the house, Mrs. Makaar and her four-year-old daughter had already been burnt beyond recognition while their father who though suffered little burns had already been choked to death.
“Their only son, nine-year-old Aondugu Makaar, was rescued and immediately rushed to Saint Theresa Hospital, Makurdi where he is currently receiving treatment and in stable condition.”
Cause of the fire
On the cause of the fire, the witness said: “It could be as a result of power surge because it was barely 30 minutes after the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, restored electricity to the area when the fire started.”
She lamented that the victims would have been rescued if officials of the state fire service had arrived the scene on time.
She said: “We tried to reach them only to discover that they had another incident to take care of in the north bank area of the town. Before they arrived the scene, the entire house had been engulfed by inferno.”
Contacted, the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent Daniel Ezeala, said the police had commenced investigation into the incident.