It was a black Thursday morning as a night inferno burnt down Akure South Local Government's Rate Office, museum and several shops located beside the Palace of the Deji of Akure.
The inferno was said to have burnt valuables including computers, photocopier machines, generating sets and stationeries among others, worth several millions of naira .
The Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, and other shop owners said that the fire started around midnight on Thursday.
Although no life was lost to the inferno but property worth several millions of naira were lost to the midnight fire.
The cause of the inferno was yet to be ascertained, but some shop owners mostly women, who spoke with journalists said the fire may not be unconnected to power surge.
The spread of the inferno was said to have escalated by petrol kept in jerrycans and generating sets filled with petrol put in many of the shops coupled with the fact that some of the shops were wooden ones.
All efforts to put out the conflagration proved abortive as all the property were burnt to ashes.
When The Hope visited the place, the victims of the inferno were waiting as they began to count their loses.
Speaking on the incident, the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladetoyinbo Aladelusi, who thanked God that no life was lost to the inferno, explained that he personally led palace boys and others to pour water on the inferno to put it out that midnight.
According to the monarch, immediately the palace was alerted about the incident, he also called the state Fire Service to come and rescue the situation but said that they did not come on time leading to what he called complete destruction of all the property including cash.
The Deji also said when the fire fighters came, they complained about lack of enough water to quench the fire. He also said he called the federal fire service at the Akure Airport to save the situation which he described as terrible and very sad.
He sympathised with the victims of the incident and prayed to God to assist them.
Caretaker Chairman, Akure South Local Government Area, Comrade (Mrs) Margaret Atere who also visited the scene of the incident described it as very sad, and pathetic, saying that the incident was a great loss.
Some of the victims who lost valuables to the conflagration and spoke with our reporters, Mrs Temitope Akinrinsotu, Daramola Grace and Ayanda Toba, said the incident which started around 12am had rendered them helpless as the source of their livelihood had been burnt to ashes.
They, however, pleaded with the state government to come to their aid, saying nothing was left for them again.
They equally appreciated the efforts made by the Deji to put out the inferno that midnight.
On her part, the President of the traders in the market, Mrs Orogun Elizabeth, who could not ascertain the cause of the conflagration, blamed the two night guards for abandoning the area, saying that if they had been around that midnight those shops would not have been burnt because they would have alerted the people early enough.
She also said the state fire fighters arrived late after the damage had been done.
Elizabeth pleaded with government to assist them, saying that they have no hope again.
However, the Chief Fire Officer of the state Fire Service, Mr. Adanlawo Philip, refuted the claims that he and his officers arrived at the scene late, noting that they all did their best to put out the fire and also contained its spread to other areas.
"I personally drove the vehicle to the scene of the fire outbreak. Really, we were not short of water by the time we took our vehicle down. When we got exhausted, we came back to replenish the tank and went back again. When we were working the second time then the men from Airport came to assist us", he said.
The state governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, who visited the scenes to assess the level of damage of the shops, assured the shops owners of government's assistance as soon as possible.
The governor who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde and his Chief of Staff, Chief Olugbenga Ale, also promised to ensure such a sad incident does not reoccur again.
They were conducted round the burnt shops and offices by the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi.
He commiserated with the Deji and the victims of the inferno with an assurance that government will come to their aid to bring back their businesses as soon as possible.