Three people – including a two-and-a-half year old toddler – have died, many others are in hospital and hundreds of tents have been razed to the ground in a fire that blazed through the Muna Garage el-Badawe internally displaced persons’ camp in Maiduguri, Borno State, last Thursday, October 4.
Musa Umara, a distraught camp resident said: “I was told there were child causalities in the fire. After it was confirmed I heard that my two-and-a-half year old grandchild was killed in the fire. I am feeling traumatised about the loss of that child. I am at a loss for words.”
The devastating fire started in the early hours of Thursday, October 4. Although the cause of the fire had not been ascertained, it was thought to be started by a kerosene stove.
The fire surged through the camp, destroying everything in its path. Many residents fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) told HumAngle that they suspected the blaze was caused by “the dangerous cooking habits of internally displaced persons”.
Umara said he had also lost 12 bags of grain in the fire. “But that is nothing compared with the loss of my grandchild.”
Another resident, Fatima Ali, said fires in the camp were frequent.
“This time I escaped with nothing but the clothes I was wearing,” she said.
Waziri Ahmed, the deputy director of Borno State Fire Service Board told RNI that when they heard about the fire, they could not reach the location in time because it was too far away. He said by the time they got there the fire had destroyed the camp, comparing it with a blaze that had razed the camp last year.
He said there were not enough units and personnel to adequately deal with fires.
“The camps are often in remote locations. It is a major setback for our work not having more units and personnel.”
Ahmed said at a recent meeting with the NEMA and the SEMA, they had discussed the issue of frequent fires at internally displaced persons ‘camps.
It had been suggested that, because of the close proximity of the tents – which made it easy for the fire to spread quickly – more space between the tents should be provided. They said the tents should be at least 5m from the next.
Nearly 3 million people had been displaced in the 12-year Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), more commonly referred to as Boko Haram, insurgency.
Fierce, brutal and deadly attacks – often on a daily basis – had forced people to flee for their lives. Most settled in internally displaced camps or host communities.
RNI tried to contact the SEMA for comment but was not successful.
- Three students were hospitalised after a fire broke out in the female hostel at the University of Maiduguri on Saturday, November 6.
According to RNI sources, the fire started in the morning when one of the students was cooking.
According to Channels Televisio Live, some students who live on campus said the hike in the price of cooking gas made them go back to their kerosene stoves.
It was the second time the university had experienced a fire outbreak in two weeks.
In a circular released on Monday, November 8, signed by Professor A M Gimba, dean of student affairs, said that the university had banned students living in hostels from cooking inside their rooms as measure to prevent future occurrences.