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It was indeed a sad week for people of the sleepy community of Ndiyam-Jumtobe, in Ndikong ward of Mayo Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa State. A mid-day fire from one of the houses got out of control last Monday, and razed several houses, rendering more than a 100 of them homeless.
The fire “destroyed all that we have laboured for,” a resident told Weekly Trust last Thursday. Witnesses said the fire started when one of the victims and mother of five whose name could not be ascertained as at the time of filing this report, reportedly forgot to put out the embers of fire after she finished preparing lunch for the day. A sparked from the embers was said to have caught an item within and spread up to the thatched roof of the house. The fire was said to have spread to some houses within the neighbourhood, destroying property which worth could not be immediately ascertained. All efforts by the villagers to contain the raging flame failed as the fire aided by the dry season wind spread quickly to houses, causing more damages to property. However no life was lost to the inferno.
“The fire started from the house of one of the neighbours and because of the wind, we could not immediately contain it as it spread to other houses within the community,” Dahiru Yaya one of the residents told Weekly Trust.
He said those whose houses were affected lost all “they owned in this world.” What they lost may not be much in the eyes of some urban dwellers, but to lose all you ever laboured for set you back several years and possibility of getting such back may not present itself again,” he lamented.
“We tried to put it out, but all to no avail, the fire spread to some other houses within the neighbourhood,’’ said a resident whose house was destroyed by the fire and simply identified himself as Mammadu.
Mammadu said most of the residents had gone to farms while others were at the local village market when the incident occurred, adding that some livestock were lost to the fire.
“Property including assorted farm produce, livestocks, domestic appliances and other personal effects were lost to the inferno which lasted for hours,” said Kawu Abdu another villager who was seriously traumatised by the incident.
Hammirawo Bello, whose nearby house escaped the fire was dazed by the incident. He had trouble picking his way round the razed surrounding. He coughed intermittently as his eyes misted over, drawing tears from the cloud of smoke that bellowed around. “I was lucky, I would have died in the fire if my house was affected because I was down with fever. I was almost dozing when I was jolted by the commotion outside. Getting out was difficult, because there was smoke everywhere, but I managed to find my way out with the aid of a walking stick. By the time I got out, a lot of damage has been done. It was terrible,” he lamented.
Nearby, a fire crew hosed down a still-burning wall. There were small flames and columns of smoke everywhere. Flames even flickered from the top of a burning door.
“What a disaster, it’s like a warzone,” said Hammirawo, 43.
Like other villagers, Abdu called on the government and other spirited individuals to come to their aid. “We are seriously in need of assistance to begin a new life,’’ he said.
Other victims of the disaster also cried out for help from government and public spirited individuals to enable them settle down.
Hajjati Bawuro said “I, my husband and brothers do the same farming business. We don’t have anybody from anywhere to help us. We need assistance from government, because this is our main source of livelihood…we beg the government to grant us some soft loan to start all over again.”
Another affected farmer, who could not control his tears claimed he also lost property worth two hundred thousand naira to the incident. According to Garbajo he recently secured a loan form a rural bank to start his farming activities. He is appealing to the bank to extend the deadline for the payment of the loan.
During a visit to the scene, chairman of Mayo-Belwa local government area, Hon. Muhammad Bako sympathised with the victims, describing the disaster as unfortunate. He urged them to take heart as no life was lost in the incident.
The council chairman therefore promised to assist the victims to cushion the hardship they were exposed to by the disaster. He later presented a cash donation to the victims.
Also during similar visit, member representing Mayo Belwa constituency in the state House of Assembly, Malam Musa Mahmoud Kallamu called on individuals, corporate bodies and other philanthropic organisations to assist the victims considering the magnitude of the incident.
Responding on behalf of the victims, the councillor representing Ndikong ward, Hon. Halidu Musa expressed gratitude to all those who donated cash and relief materials to assist the victims.