Early morning fire yesterday razed a popular shopping mall, Phill-Hallmark Supermarket, in Oredo Local Council of Edo State, destroying goods worth billions of naira. It was gathered that the fire started around 2:00a.m., when only a few of the workers were present.
The supermarket houses several sections, including a boutique, bakery, food and beverages as well as home appliances. The mall was also said to have over 50 employees and had recently undergone a major renovation.
The Edo State government has said full investigation would be conducted into the cause of the fire. Governor Godwin Obaseki said this when he inspected the mall yesterday. He was among the early callers who were at the scene to inspect the level of damage.
He also said investigation would be conducted into the activities of the state fire service. Obaseki, who was obviously shocked at the damage done to the mall, described it as a major disaster.
According to him, “This incident happening at this time of the year is a catastrophe. I have asked for a written report and investigation into the cause of the fire.
“We will also investigate the claim by an official of the state fire service on the allegation of lack of equipment, because I understand trucks were distributed by the NDDC and the state government during the last administration,” he said.
Earlier, the Managing Director of the Super Mart, Mr. Philip Edigin, said the fire started at around midnight. He disclosed that all efforts to get the state fire service to come to their rescue proved abortive as the fire service told him it had no diesel to work.
At the scene of the incident around 9:00a.m., officials of the state fire service were seen battling to put out the fire. Although it was learnt that firemen from the Nigeria Air Force and the University of Benin visited the scene, the inferno was extinguished at about 11:30am.
A customer, Mrs. Grace, expressed displeasure over what she described as a poor response in extinguishing the fire. She said, “I was shocked because from what Hallmark is worth billions of naira. How can a place like Hallmark be destroyed by such fire?”