Cross River State has witnessed over 15 cases of fire disasters this year destroying properties estimated at over N50 million and displacing over 4,000 persons.
Most of the fires affected fishing communities, residential houses, business centres and farms.
Disclosing this while assessing fire disaster at Ikot Offiong Ambai in Akpabuyo Local Government Area of the State the Director General of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) Mr. Vincent Aquah, MON lamented the spate of fire disasters in recent times.
He said that it was disheartening that thousands of persons including the most vulnerable- women and children were displaced having lost their shelter and livelihood to fires.
According to him the pathetic situation which has occurred in almost all part of the State have negatively affected the socio-economic position of both Government and the victims.
The DG stated that though the State Government has been committed in responding to the victims many are still traumatized as the recovery process is normally slow and uneventful.
The SEMA boss who attributed the frequent fire disasters to careless use of fires said that such trend can be checked if the populate heeded to public enlightenment campaigns on the need to switch off all electrical appliances not in use and the management of fires, petrol and other inflammable materials.
While praising the State Fire Service for its role in making frantic efforts at containing most of the fire outbreaks, Mr. Aquah called for sustainable collaborative efforts with SEMA and other stakeholders especially in the area of sensitization in order to eliminate the incidences of the unwholesome trend.
He recalled the pathetic psychological and social situation victims of such disasters are subjected to having lost every property including cloths, foodstuff, cash, livestock and even human lives saying that such destruction can hardly be quantified and adequately rehabilitated.
Narrating the incidence the landlord of a 24 room apartment at number 51 Ikot Offiong Ambai, Akpabuyo Elder Elijah Nnah Affang said that the source of the fire which gutted the entire compound remained a mystery as it is yet to be ascertained.
Elder Affang said that the fire started about 2:30am on Monday June 1 engulfing the only exit in the compound trapping the over 32 occupants.
He stated that in the midst of the confusion and smoke which choked children and women in a higher degree, men summoned up courage to crack open one of the rooms through which they all escaped unhurt leaving behind them all their propertyS and watched helplessly from a safe distance as the entire house was being razed down.
The arrival of the State Fire Service about 30 minutes later according to him could not salvage anything from the house except the spread of the inferno to adjourning buildings.
Recently, four similar disasters occurred in Calabar where houses were gutted by fire leaving many people displaced and property worth millions of Naira destroyed.