The fire on Wednesday at the Brasas Plaza in the popular Balogun Market, Lagos Island has claimed two lives.
Another victim, The Nation learnt, is in critical condition.
A police Sergeant Michael Dominic and a shop owner died while trying to put out the fire.
It was learnt that part of the burning building collapsed and a heavy object fell on people.
Those with minor injuries were treated at the scene, others were taken to hospital.
One shop owner was in critical condition.
The policeman and one of the shop owners were declared dead at the hospital.
Twenty-four hours after the fire broke out, firefighters were yet to quench it.
The Lagos State Fire Service Director Mrs Margaret Adeseye and General Manager of the state Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu were yesterday coordinating the fire fighting efforts.
No fewer than 12 persons were arrested by the police for allegedly looting the stores.
The Area ‘A’ Commander in the Lion building, Bode Ojajuni, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), said police tried as much as possible to ensure that miscreants were prevented from looting and committing crimes at the scene of the fire.
ACP Ojajuni said, “You know this area is infected with miscreants popularly known as Area Boys. We have to ensure that life and property of people especially the victims of the fire incident are safe and also protect the firefighters who work overnight. We have arrested 12 miscreants that attempted to loot people’s wares and they will be prosecuted if they are found guilty. During the night we ensure the security is tight because teh area boys will steal people’s property in the name of helping the victims to salvage their goods.”
LASEMA Director-General Dr Oke-Osanyintolu said the emergency response team has been able to control the fire.
Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Central Business District (CBD), Prince Anofiu Olanrewaju Elegushi said that the governor had promised to assist the affected traders who lost goods in the inferno.
Elegushi said the cause of the fire remained unknown.
Traders were seen salvaging the remains of their burnt goods.
The Acting Chairman of the United Lagos Island Men and Women Business Association, Augustine Omenyi said so far goods worth over N250 have been lost to the incident.
He called on Lagos State government to ensure all available measure put in place to curtail the burning fire.
“The firefighters are trying their best to quench the fire, they stay till this morning. They try to curtail the fire from spreading because goods trapped in the building are burnable items. They will keeping burning till the fire is totally extinguish,” he said.
He lamented over millions of Naira of goods lost.
“So far, we can quantify what has been lost to the fire incident to N250 million. It is going to be more than that by the time the fire is totally put out. This is bad news for the victims who lost lot of goods and money. I own one of the shops, which I stock with goods worth N150,000. Likewise, some of the shops in the building belong to my brothers, they lost all their goods and they don’t have anywhere to do their business,” he said.
He urged Lagos State government to come to the aid of traders in Balogun Market by preventing such from reoccurring, noting that the inferno happens virtually every year.
“This fire outbreak happens virtually every year; the woman that owns the building is a big woman. I don’t know the kind of connection she had that the government did not wade into this barbaric occurrence which happens every year.
“Even if the cause of the yearly fire outbreak is caused by the electricity, there must be a solution to put an end to it. She is wealthy but we the tenants of the shop are hustlers,” he said.
Omenyi pleaded with Governor Babatunde Sanwo-Olu to assist the victims.
“I want the government to come and help us. They should try as much as possible to clear the debris on time in order to start a business because this is festive period. I am pleading with Governor Sanwo-Olu on behalf of marketers to assist those who lost their goods and hard earn money,” he said.