Alexander Okere, Benin
Fire on Sunday razed a popular shopping mall, Phill-Hallmark Supermarket, in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, destroying several goods worth billions of naira.
It was gathered that the fire started at about 2am, when only a few of the staff were present.
It was learnt that the inferno completely destroyed the four floors of the main building, while an extension of the mall was partly burnt.
Several goods worth billions of naira were said to have been affected by the fire.
The supermarket houses several sections, including a boutique, bakery, food and beverages as well as home appliances.
It was also said to have over 50 employees and had recently undergone a major renovation.
When our correspondent got to the scene of the incident at about 9am, officials of the state fire service were seen battling to put off the fire.
Although it was learnt that firemen from the Nigerian Airforce and the University of Benin visited the scene, the inferno was later extinguished at about 11:30am.
Efforts to speak with the management of the mall were not successful as the manager declined comment, as sympathisers thronged the premises of the mall.
Governor Godwin Obaseki, who was among the early callers, was at the scene to inspect the level of damage.
Others who were sighted at the premises of the building were the lawmaker representing Egor constituency in the House of Assembly, Crossby Eribo; the Executive Director (Enforcement) of the state internal revenue service, Emmanuel Usoh, and a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Paschal Ugbome.
Eribo said, “It is very sad. Even if we had a very good and controllable fire service, it still would have been very difficult because it is large shopping mall.
“It is a massive loss at this festive period when people are trying to shop with the recession. In fact, I was in tears when I came