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Ringing Phone Ignited Fire, Kills Father and His Two Daughters

Tears flowed on Wednesday on Adebiyi Street in the Somolu area of Lagos State after a 65-year-old motorist, Alhaji Kamourudeen Ajibade, and his daughters, Shakirat and Wuraola, were burnt to death in an inferno, the PUNCH has reported.

The three were killed after fire gutted their apartment around 11pm on Tuesday.

Shakirat,19, had finished her secondary school education and was an apprentice in a graphics and design company, while 15-year-old Wuraola was still in Senior Secondary School 3.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Kamourudeen was to celebrate his election as the chairman of a motor park in Onipanu on Wednesday before the tragedy struck.

He was said to have returned from work on Tuesday with a 50-litre jerrycan of fuel which he kept in the corridor at the back of his apartment.

It was learnt that he was transferring part of the fuel to a smaller container when his phone rang.

The phone reportedly ignited a fire, which engulfed the victim.

His two daughters, who heard his cry for help, were said to have rushed there, but were trapped as well.

Their corpses were said to have been removed by officials of the Lagos State Ambulance Service.

When PUNCH Metro visited the scene, residents, family members and friends, were observed lamenting the deaths.

A neighbour of the victims, Ogbechie Enoch, aka Baba Soldier, said he had a chat with the Badagry, Lagos State indigene a few minutes to the incident.

He said, “Around 9pm, power was restored to the area and I went inside to watch news update.

“A few minutes after, the electricity went off and I came outside and saw him. I was lamenting the situation in the country and how things were getting worse. He said we should keep hope alive.

“He went back inside. It was some minutes after, around past 10pm that I heard people shouting, ‘Fire, fire, help, help’.

“The residents trooped into their house and started combating the fire. I gave them my fire extinguisher to save lives, not knowing the lives were already lost.”

PUNCH Metro observed that only the corridor of the victims was affected by the fire.

Partially burnt naira notes also littered the floor.

A tenant, who did not reveal his identity, said, “Alhaji is a motorist and he has two vehicles. One was bought just a few days ago to celebrate his election as the chairman of the park at Onipanu/Fola Agoro today (Wednesday).

“Because there was no power, he decided to transfer fuel from a 50-litre jerrycan to a smaller container. As he was doing this, his phone rang and that was how the fire started. He shouted for help and his children rushed out to save him, and were choked to death by smoke.”

A relative said she had a premonition of the incident, adding that had Kamourudeen told her of the party, she would have discouraged him.

Some friends of the victim were seen by PUNCH Metro making contributions to raise funds to take the corpses from the mortuary.

It was learnt that the family planned to bury the three corpses on Wednesday in accordance with Islamic rites.

The Director of the Lagos State Fire Service, Rasak Fadipe, said the fire was caused by the fuel which was stored at home.

“Unfortunately, three people died, which included the man and his two children. The fire was caused by storage of petrol,” he said.

The side effect of the lingering fuel scarcity in the country on Tuesday night claimed another victim at a hotel on Oyedele Street in the Egbe area of Ikotun, Lagos.

It was learnt that the hotel – Climax Hotel – whose operation had been affected by the fuel crisis, was unable to run on generator.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the deceased, 48-year-old Ifeanyi Nwachukwu, and his 11-year-old son had travelled from outside the state and lodged in the hotel.

Around 11.30pm, Nwachukwu’s son, whose name had yet to be ascertained, reportedly lit a candle stick to illuminate their hotel room, while his father slept off.

He was said to have placed the candle on a stool beside the bed and went out to get fresh air on the hotel premises.

Our correspondent learnt that when the candle burnt out, the fire caught the bedspread and engulfed the whole room afterwards.

Nwachukwu, who was said to be ill, was burnt to death while his charred remains were removed by the state firefighters from the Ikotun fire station.

A youth, who identified himself only as Elijah, said, “After the candle dissolved, the fire caught the bedspread and consumed the room. When the fire was put out, the man had died.”

On Wednesday when our correspondent visited the area, he approached a man in front of the hotel and requested to speak to the manager on the incident. But the man, believed to be a worker, denied him access, saying the incident did not happen in the hotel.”

But some residents, who were asked, identified the facility as the Climax Hotel.

An emergency worker said the manager of the hotel took the victim’s son to the Idimu Police Division.

He said, “Immediately we received an alert, we moved to the area with our equipment. By the time we got there, the fire had been put out. We removed the corpse of the man and the hotel manager handed over his son to the police.”

Fire service boss, Fadipe, advised the public to go for rechargeable lamps rather than use candles.

He said, “The incident happened around 11.30pm. The man was ill and was asleep when the fire started.

“He was fatally burnt. Candle sticks should be avoided in homes. There are rechargeable lamps that are not costly.”

Police spokesperson, Badmos, said, “The case is under investigation.”