Fire yesterday gutted the Minna, Niger State depot of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as some black marketers’ scooped fuel from a leaking tank.
Eyewitnesses and NNPC officials said there were no casualties.
A worker of the NNPC said the leakage started on Saturday but the fire began about 11am on yesterday when the black marketers mobilised themselves and started scooping the fuel.
He said: “We have been on ground since yesterday when the leakage started but these miscreants caused the fire as they went to the drainage to start scooping fuel.”
The fire scared travellers and motorists off the busy Minna-Paiko road, they were afraid of taking the route for fear of a repeat of the Lagos incident.
A resident who lives close to the depot, Ibrahim Paiko, said the leakage flowed through the depot’s drainage of the depot and when the black marketers saw it, they mobilised themselves and started scooping.
“Despite the presence of security men, the boys refused to stop and the fire started.”
Director-General of the Niger State Emergency Agency (NSEMA) Ahmed Ibrahim Inga said they were able to control the situation early. “If not that we started evacuation on time, it would have been a big disaster. We thank God everything has returned to normalcy. Thank God we alerted the people quickly and we were able to arrest the situation. Evacuation measures have been put in place and thank God the situation is now calm.
“There are no casualties and we are trying to quell the fire totally and then we will go round to access what the situation is.”