Fire Outbreak In Abuja Popular Art And Craft Village Destroys Art Work Worth Over 400m

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Over 20 shops filled with artworks were destroyed in
the fire at the Abuja Arts and Craft Village Friday night, Mr Kanayo
Chukwumezie, president of the African Arts and Cultural Heritage Association
(AACHA) said.
Chukwumezie told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on
Saturday in Abuja that the disaster caused a loss of over N400 million.
“We have not ascertained the cause of the
fire. When the fire started and the first two shops were burning, our
members wanted to rush in to stop the fire, but the security at the gate by
National Council for Art and Culture (NCAC) prevented them.
“Before the Fire Service arrived, almost all the shops
were burnt: they were only able to extinguish the smoke.
“Artworks and other products for Christmas sales worth
over N400 million were burnt to ashes,” Chukwumezie said.
He said that the NCAC had promised to put in place a
fire service unit at the village to ensure prompt response to fire incidence
“but nothing was done.
“We use to stay in the village over night, but when
they told us to stop staying there and promised to provide security and
anti-fire measures, we stopped staying overnight.
“If we were allowed to be staying overnight, this fire
accident would have been controlled by those around.
“We appeal to the NCAC to come to the aid of those
that lost their means of livelihood in the inferno,” he said.
Meanwhile one the victims of the fire, Mallam Mohammed
Lawal said he left the village around 8p.m. on Friday.
“I was called later around 10p.m. that the village was
on fire. Before I could come back, serious damage had already been done.
“I believe if we were allowed to be staying overnight,
such an incident would have been controlled before it caused havoc,” Lawal
said.
Another shop owner, Mr Kennedy Idowu said he lost
everything to the inferno including new art works and crafts for December
sales.
“All, including the one I had before now were burnt to
ashes. It’s so unfortunate. I am devastated now, where do I start from?”.
A security guard at the gate, who pleaded anonymity,
told NAN that the fire service was contacted immediately the fire started.
“Some people attempted to come in, but we were afraid
of hooligans using the situation to loot and steal items from the shops.
“However, some of us attempted to control the fire,
but it got out of our control because the shops’ roof was made of dried grass,”
he said.

Efforts to get the reactions of officials of the NCAC
were not successful. (NAN)
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