The Osun State Fire Service has confirmed that 17 shops were destroyed in an early morning market fire in Ile-Ife on Saturday.
The dawn fire, which razed some parts of the Oja Tuntun market, described as the largest market in the ancient town, also destroyed goods worth millions of Naira.
As at press time, the spokesperson of Osun State Fire Service, Adekunle Ibrahim, revealed that the cause of the fire could not be ascertained.
Ibrahim disclosed that firemen received a distress call from a resident living near the market about 12:30 am on Saturday.
“When firemen arrived at the scene, the raging fire had affected a building that has 16 shops and a container within the market.
“A team from the fire unit of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, also joined the Osun firemen and prevented the fire from escalating.
The Public Relations Officer of the Osun NSCDC, Kehinde Adeleke, also confirmed the fire incident.
Adeleke said operatives of the command were on guard at the scene to prevent looting, as firemen battled to halt the spread of the fire to other parts of the market.
The head of market women at the Oja-Tuntun Market, Falilat Lawal, lamented repeated fire outbreaks.
She recalled that years ago, the market association called on the state government to restructure the market and turn it into a major trading centre.
Lawal observed that shops in the market were poorly spaced, leading to congestion and exposure to collateral damage.
“The state and federal government should come to our aid in reconstructing this market; we need solar light in the market.
This is the major market in ancient Ile-Ife city, and there has not been any improvement since its creation till date, compared to Gbagi Market in Ibadan.
“Majority of those whose shops were razed had been conducting their businesses using bank loans; they are now at sea as to how to begin again,’’ Lawal noted.
It was gathered that goods destroyed in the inferno were worth about N30 million.