Katina — There is no smoke without fire, goes a popular saying. This aphorism proved right in the case of Katsina local government secretariat when the building went up in flames on Thursday. The entire administrative block of the secretariat located around Kofar-Durbi in the state metropolis was affected.
Weekly Trust observed that the offices of the chairman, vice chairman, secretary, treasurer, registry and heads of departments, all located within the administrative block, were completely destroyed by the fire which lasted for about three hours.
The fire, it was gathered, started around 7pm about an hour after the chairman and other principal officers closed for the day. It was further learnt that the chamber of the local government secretariat was the starting point for the fire before it spread to other offices attached to the chamber.
Properties in the affected offices worth millions of naira were shattered by the fire, Weekly Trust heard from witnesses, who also said that nothing was removed from the affected offices. The local authority has not quantified the lost caused by the fire, as at the time of filing in this report.
Weekly Trust further observed cracks all over the building, while the roofing, doors and windows were completely razed down by the inferno.
The inferno, which has been blamed on electrical sparks that occurred in the chamber of the local government secretariat few minutes after the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) brought back the light on high voltage. Neighbours of the secretariat sighted heavy smock coming out from chamber before it went off in flame.
When Weekly Trust visited the secretariat on Thursday night, it was observed that although officials of the fire service department have arrived at the scene on time but they could not quench the fire for lack of sufficient water.
As at the time our reporter arrived at the scene it was only the chamber of secretariat that was on fire but minutes after the entire offices attached to it were caught by the inferno. Weekly Trust gathered the only functional fire service vehicle with which the fire service men were up and doing to put the fire under control was said to be brought from the nearby Batagarawa local government as the one belonging to the local government was not functional.
Sympathizers were helpless at the scene watching the flickering fire consuming the building of the administrative block as they could not make any effort to quench it due to lack of water. They only assisted owners of some vehicles parked within the premises of the secretariat to remove them from the place.
They have removed many vehicles from the secretariat in their efforts to save them from the fire, a witness Jamilu Sani said, saying "we have to break windows' glasses of the vehicles in order to remove them from the secretariat because the owners are not around and the fire was coming towards them."
Sani explained that they could have saved many items from the affected offices if they opened but because most of the destroyed offices were not on fire when they have reached the secretariat, adding that "only the chamber and one office that were caught by the fire when we came"
He said they watching when office of the chairman and that of his vice and secretary were caught by the fire, saying "there is nothing we can do to stop the fire because there was no water to quench it."
It was gathered that properties worth billions of naira were destroyed by the night inferno, chairman of the local government, Alhaji Hamisu Gambo, has said. According to him the fire had consumed 30 years old properties. Gambo said Katsina local government was among the oldest local government secretariats in the state.
"I and some principal officer were at office up to 5pm and there was nothing such as fire incidence while we are in the office but around 7pm, some neighbors of the secretariat alerted us that there was smock coming out from the chamber of the secretariat and before we arrived the chamber was caught by fire," he said.
Gambo explained that they were able to remove few items from some offices before fire caught them. He the fire service officials have done their best, saying "but you know whatever Allah destined to happen it must happen no matter what someone does to prevent it occurrence."
He said as Muslims they have taken the incident in good faith and they will do their best to rehabilitate the destroyed buildings, adding that "the local government has already set up a committee that will assess the causes of the fire and the level of damages caused by the inferno."
Alhaji Hamisu Gambo also said that occupants of the destroyed offices have been relocated to other offices to enable them continue with their assigned duties, assuring that the local government will intensify action in rehabilitating the affected buildings.