By Evelyn Usman
The father of one, who occupied a one-room apartment at 9 Ogundade Street, Ejigbo area of Lagos, returned earlier that day from church with his family.
After taking their evening meal of boiled rice and stew, the family, as gathered, settled to watch the television, when, all of a sudden, there was power failure.
Mr Opara was said to have gone to put on their generator placed close to their room. Time was 11 p.m. The entire famiy then slept off, hoping to switch off the generator by midnight. Soon thereafter, the generator exploded, setting the house on fire.
While other neighbors, most of whom were jolted from sleep, scampered in different directions for safety, the fire raged , spreading to other apartments. Just then, one of them shouted, “What about Mama Opara?” They reportedly looked round but did not see any member of the Opara family.
As if responding to the question, shouts for help were heard from the Opara apartment. But no one could go for help as thick smoke had covered the veranda. An attempt by a rescuer proved abortive as he was almost chocked.
The shouts for help, as gathered, continued but, at a point, they became faint and then stopped outright.
The fire reportedly raged till the following day without fire servicemen coming to the family’s rescue. The neighbours reportedly battled hard to put out the fire, to no avail.
Policemen from Ejigbo division visited the scene the next day, where the charred remains of Peter Opara, his wife, Ebere, and their two-year-old baby were evacuated to the Isolo General Hospital mortuary.
When Sunday Vanguard visited the scene, properties of the deceased family littered the house.
Although the police said they were investigating the cause of the fire, one of the tenants, who did not want his name in print, said, “The fire was caused by their power generating set which was close to their room .
That night, all I heard was an explosion, the cause of which no one could tell. When one of us ran out to see what the problem was, he saw it was fire. And you know how it is with petrol. Immediately the whole place was engulfed . I quickly rushed in, carried two of my children who were asleep and rushed out, calling my wife to wake up.
“When I got outside, I saw some of our neighbors. You see these properties, they were brought out by some of us who managed to go in . Some people even joined us to salvage some of the properties. It is just unfortunate that Peter and his family are gone. We did not know they were trapped inside because, you know, at that point, it was every man for himself and God for all.”