It was a black Christmas for about 200 plank retailers in Sango Plank Market, Ibadan, Oyo State capital on Friday.
More than 200 shops were burnt to ashes at the market located in Alaro area of Sango.
The fire was said to have started at about 3:00 pm and it was still burning as at 7.30pm with the men of the Oyo State Fire Service struggling to put it out.
The loss in the fire is estimated at N250 million.
The cause of the fire was unknown as at press time.
It was gathered that the fire was fuelled by the large stock of planks in each of the shops and heaps of saw dust scattered around the market, coupled with the effect of the dry season.
Only one fire service tanker was at the scene of the incident.
As a form of self help, traders ordered tankers of water add to the water needed by fire fighters.
The traders wailed as they saw their wares in flames with efforts too little to quench the raging fire.
One of the traders, who simply identified himself as Adegoke, expressed shock at the incident. He recalled that he left his shop around 2.30pm after coming from home to attend to a customer who urgently needed some planks. He explained that he received a call that the market was on fire about 30 minutes later.
His words: “Because Friday is Christmas, I decided to observe the festival at home like many of our members. But a customer called me on my mobile telephone while I was at home. He said he urgently needed to buy some planks so I boarded a commercial motorcycle to the shop. After the transaction, I closed the shop and went back home. I was still on the way when I had the call that the shops had caught fire.”
Emphasizing that he lost stock worth N3.5 million in the inferno, Adegoke said: “I am a medium-sized trader but we have some of us with planks and equipment worth more than N5m in their shops.”
Apart from the planks, several sawing machines and other logging equipment were lost in the fire.