A raging inferno on Thursday night razed over 600 shops at the old market in Bida, headquarters of Bida Local Government Area of Niger.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the fire, which started at about 8.30 p.m. destroyed goods and other property in the old market.
Witnesses said firemen from the Bida Fire Service and Federal Polytechnic Fire Service could not access the burnt section of the market as some shops were still in flames.
The cause of the inferno could not be ascertained as at the time this report.
Alhaji Mohammad Badugu, the Chairman, Bida Local Government, told NAN that the entire market was engulfed in fire.
“We are expecting more firefighting vehicles from Minna as our neighbouring local government firefighting vehicles are not in good condition,” Bagudu said.
He confirmed that the Bida fire service and Federal Polytechnic fire service, the Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and good Samaritans rallied to extinguish the fire.
According to the chairman, all the 600 shops in the old market were completely burnt.
He listed goods destroyed to include clothes, motorcycles, building materials, bags of maize, beans, rice, palm oil and poultry products.
He expressed shock at the development, promising that the council would try to rebuild the market without much delay.
A trader, Alhaji Isa Kabiru said: “I have over 700 bags of rice, maize and vegetable oil all destroyed in seven different shops in this market.”
Another trader, Alhaji Danlami Abubakar, a rice dealer said he lost over 800 bags of rice and two shops loaded with household items.
Similarly, Hajiya Rabi Abubakar described the tragedy as an act of God.
“God gave us and has taken it back; I have taken the entire incident as an act of God.
“As I am talking to you, four of the shop owners have been taken to Bida General Hospital, right now we don’t know their conditions.”
A textile materials dealer, Hajiya Kande Habu, who said she lost five shops to the fire, urged the government and well-meaning Nigerians to support the victims in cushioning their losses.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Dibal Yakadi, confirmed the incidence.
“My Area Commander is leading police personnel deployed to maintain the security of lives and property in the market,’’ Yakadi said.
He explained that the Police were there to prevent miscreants from stealing and ensure law and order in the market.