It was a mix of grief and palpable tension in the Alausa area of Lagos on Friday when fire ravaged the mechanic village located on Ashabi Cole Street in the Central Business District, destroying over 15 vehicles, while about 10 others were partly burnt.
The fire was said to have started around 2:30am and lasted several hours before it was put under control by men of the state Fire Service.
Though no life was lost in the incident, several other goods were also burnt, including motor batteries and generators, while some other vehicles were not affected, especially the ones parked in the inner part of the shop.
Some other properties that were completely razed in the premises include a computer services shop and a confectionery shop. The fire also spread to the Tisco building, which shares boundary with the mechanic shop, destroying printing machines, air conditioners, desktop computers, souvenirs and other items.
When our correspondent visited the premises on Friday, the expansive village was like a shadow of itself as it was devoid of its usual activities, coupled with the pungent smell that rented the air, safe for sympathisers, car owners and mechanics, who gathered in their numbers counting their losses and lamenting the tragedy that had befallen them.
One of the owners of the burnt vehicles, who identified himself simply as Tony, regretted leaving his Honda Legend saloon car with the mechanic overnight. He told Saturday PUNCH that the car had a minor ignition problem when he gave it to the mechanic.
He said, “I asked my mechanic to pick the car in my house on Thursday morning and I thought he would finish it, but when I called him in the evening, he said he would finish it first thing on Friday morning, so I left the car with him. But the incident happened overnight.
“My wife was supposed to use the vehicle to take the children to school on Friday but because it was with the mechanic we had to look for an alternative.”
Tony, who appeared distraught over the incident, said he had just repainted the car the previous week in the same shop, which cost him thousands of naira.
While Tony kept gazing at his burnt vehicle, one of the mechanics was still at loss as to how to inform his client that his vehicle had been completely razed by fire. He said he had finished panel beating the vehicle and had planned to do the painting on Friday morning when the incident happened overnight.
“I don’t even know how to tell the owner what happened. I don’t know,” he said.