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Academic activities at the Yaba College of Technology have been suspended for three days after the female hostel of the school was gutted by fire in the early hours of Wednesday, destroying 20 rooms.
The building, Bakassi Hostel, is a double wing four-storeyed structure occupied by female students. The affected wing has 72 rooms, 20 of which were razed.
It was learnt that the fire, which started around 5am, was caused by a surge from a faulty socket in one of the rooms.
No fewer than 30 students reportedly sustained injuries in a stampede that resulted from struggle to flee their respective rooms to safety.
It took a combined effort of the school’s firefighters, the Lagos State Fire Service, the National Emergency Management Agency, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency and policemen from the Sabo division to douse the flames with firefighting equipment.
However, students, who spoke with our correspondent, said there was slow response on the part of emergency officials and blamed the incident on poor wiring in the hostel.
An HND 1 Accountancy student, who identified herself simply as Oluwakemi, said she lost all her belongings to the fire, adding that two of her friends fainted as result of fumes they inhaled.
The hostel after the inferno
She said, “There was a power cut and somebody started the generator. Immediately the power was switched to the generator, there was spark from a wire in the hostel. Our wires are bad and we have been complaining to the school authorities since September.
“One of the sockets in the hostel started bringing out smoke. That was what started the fire. Immediately we noticed the fire, we started rushing out. About 40 students were injured. Some fainted. Two of them, Bella and Onome, are my friends. My property was burnt, including my credentials. There was delay in putting out the fire.”
Another affected student, who gave her name only as Regina, said except the wrapper she had on, she could not salvage her property.
“I fell on the staircase while rushing downstairs. People stepped on me before I was eventually rescued. Many of us were injured. We are up to 40,” she added.
A student of Textile Department, who did not want his name in print, urged the school authorities to urgently attend to students’ needs.
He said, “The management should try to pay attention to students’ complaints. Every issue that we report to the school, the management will want to follow protocols, which will take time. They are not supposed to be lackadaisical to cases that have to do with students’ safety.”
The Director, Lagos State Fire Service, Mr. Rasaq Fadipe, said firefighters from three stations were deployed in the school.
“Firefighters from Ilupeju, Alausa and Yaba responded and joined the school’s fire service to put out the fire. Twenty rooms at the topmost floor were destroyed,” he said.
LASEMA General Manager, Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, said, “Sixteen female students, including some asthmatic patients, were choked by the flames, but they were quickly attended to.”
The Director, YABATECH Public Relations Unit, Dr Charles Oni, said the actual cause of the fire had yet to be ascertained. He, however, stated that students used electric cooking appliances in the hostel in spite of the management’s warning against such.
He said, “The Works and Services Unit said anytime a fault is reported, they attend to it. What happened was just an accident which is natural. Firemen needed an excavator to attend to the fire, which the college provided. About 13 students got injured in the stampede. They were rushed to the school clinic and are being attended to. Academic activities have been suspended.
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