By Ononye VC
There was commotion and outrage at James Street, Onitsha near the popular Mission Road junction on Monday afternoon when three little children of the same parents allegedly died in a mysterious fire incident at No 2b James Street,Onitsha.
The victims who lived with their parents at the last floor of the four story building could not be rescued by neighbours because their residence which was protected with iron doors were locked inside and the children could not open the doors as it was assumed they were deliberately locked inside their apartment by their parents who are traders in order for them to stay indoors.
It was assumed by eyewitnesses that the children may have tampered with a cooking gas cylinder which may have leaked out and caught fire which may have been ignited by one of the children.
Rescuers and fire service men who eventually gained access to the apartment saw the children huddled together but were already burnt to death.
The fire destroyed a good portion of the apartment before it was put off and prevented from spreading to the entire building.
Another version of the story alleged that a Lady who was looking after the kids had left them to buy something downstairs. Moments after going downstairs, the children were heard screaming helplessly inside a room and before help could come,three out of four of them were already burnt to death while one remained seriously injured and now in hospital.
Some of the residents said the victim’s family does not use cooking gas cylinder and that the entire upper apartments would have been engulfed if it were to be gas explosion.
They suspected a foul play and urged the authorities investigating the matter to quiz the lady who was with the kids shortly before the incident.
A different account altogether alleged that the four little children strayed into a room where their parents stored inflammable chemicals and set it alight with matches after a maid looking after them had left to buy something downstairs. The fire consumed three of them in seconds and left their badly charred remains on the floor while one survived.
The family of the victims are natives of Ihiala in Anambra State.
When Trinitas visited the scene of the incident,a huge crowd gathered close to the building. Horrified women were wailing and crying while efforts were being made to evacuate the dead bodies.
It was not clear at press time whether official investigations have begun to unravel the actual cause of the fire.
It has become the style of parents to lock their little ones at home while doing something elsewhere,giving room for the kids to tamper with dangerous household equipments and gadgets.
May their souls rest in peace.
By Ononye VC