A family of seven had been roasted to death in an inferno which broke out at about 1 AM on Friday, December 26, 2014 while they were all fast asleep at Ayankor village in Gboko East of Gboko local government area of Benue State.
The father of the family Mr. Lawani Oye, who was a renowned automobile panel beater in the area had turned on the generating set on the fateful night following an interruption in the supply of power.
An eyewitness told Vanguard that the inferno engulfed the block of three flats, killing the husband and wife, Mr. And Mrs. Lawani Oye, and their five children.
Mr Oye whose wife was a business woman in the area popularly called ‘Oye omo Yoruba,’ was said to have switched on his power generator but unknowingly left a lantern with flames very close to the generator.
Unfortunately, the family could not live to tell the story as the generating set caught fire which spread to the house and killed the entire family.
One of his colleagues who simply identified himself as Ter, said the late Oye, was one of the experts in the panel beating business in the neighbourhood.
“He was a man who knew his job and had no issues with anyone. We were all shocked to hear that he died after closing from work, alongside his entire family in the disaster.
“Though we have declare a day of mourning for him and the family by closing our business for the day in respect and honour for the departed family, we will all miss him because he was a good man,” said Ter.
One other eyewitness who didn’t want his name mentioned said every other person in the building managed to escape when the fire started in the early hours of the fateful day except the deceased family
He said, “We all sat outside after an outage in public power supply, to discuss contemporary issues that night, after which everyone retired to his house.
“It was shortly after that, as usual, that they put on their generator and went to bed only for everybody in the neighborhood to be woken up by the shouts of fire and there was so much confusion as everyone ran for dear life.
“I think the fire started at about 12 midnight in Oye’s flat when everyone in the neighbourhood, including the victims of the inferno, had gone to bed.
“It was his wife and mother of the dead children, who we popularly called Mama Tunde, who also died in the disaster that raised the alarm that prompted other neighbours to rush out of their flats.
“In the midst of the confusion, we all battled to put out the strange fire in order to rescue the family but it was all in vain. After failing, however, we all managed to escape with our families.
“While this was going on, some people tried to reach the fire service but it was too late. “Our pain about this tragic and unfortunate incident is that the same woman who died with her family in the fire was the one who raised the alarm that saved others and her family could not be saved; they were burnt beyond recognition.
“The whole thing is still a mystery to neighbors and no one can at this moment ascertain the cause of the inferno but the only clue we have is that their generator was on that night, and, by the time we went round after the fire, we saw that a lantern was positioned very close to the generating set.
“Perhaps the fire was ignited by the petrol in the generator and the flame of the lantern, but no one can really say for sure”.
“I believe that what happened here could be a case of negligence, but unfortunately it turned out a fatal one; it is just painful,” he added.
The charred bodies of the deceased family memebers have been deposited at the Gboko General Hospital mortuary although they were left unattended to owing to the strike actions embarked by the hospital workers.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that arrangements was in progress for the burial of the deceased family members.