Abakaliki — Mysterious fire yesterday gutted the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, Abakaliki, destroying broadcast equipment and furniture worth millions of naira.
Vanguard learnt that the fire which started from the studio section of the complex around 9pm while the station was on air, quickly spread to other sections and immediately yanked the station off air.
Many residents who were viewing the station at the time it went off air later told our correspondent that they were alarmed over the manner the station went off air, stressing that they became suspicious that something was wrong.
A distress call was reportedly put across to the Ebonyi State Fire Service office located about eight kilometers away but no sooner had they arrive with a fire truck, said to be half filled with water, than they ran out of water and had to run back to station to refill while the devastation by the raging inferno continued.
On their arrival nearly 45 minutes later, the entire studio had been consumed just as it took the firemen another gruelling 30 minutes to quench the fire.
Sources close to the station attributed the cause of the fire to electrical sparks in the studio. Equipment said to have been destroyed include: video cameras, three monitors, microphones, props, underground cables and studio lights.
The fire incident attracted staff of the station including the General Manager, Mrs. Nkechi Odukwu who rushed back to office on getting wind of the development.
But both the staff on duty and those that rushed to join them were helpless as every effort made to extinguish the fire before the intervention of the men of the fire service had little or no impact.
Meanwhile, Governor Martin Elechi of Ebonyi state yesterday paid a sympathy visit to the television station in Abakaliki, describing the incident as unfortunate.
At the time of this report, an unconfirmed report revealed that the NTA station in Abuja had directed the immediate arrest and detention of all the security men on duty when the fire incident occurred.