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Mr. Mientei Ayawei, son of a former Bayelsa State Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Chief Nimibofa Ayawei, and his girlfriend, identified only as Happiness, have been burnt to death in an apartment fire.
The incident occurred on Saturday at the NIIT area of Tombia in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state.
The cause of the inferno could not be ascertained but a source close to the family of Ayawei, the current Chairman of the Bayelsa State Board of Internal Revenue, said the fire was caused by a high electricty voltage.
The source, who did not want to be mentioned because he was not authorised to comment on the incident, said the high voltage, which allegedly sparked fire through an electric extension, started by 4am on that day.
He said the fire, which razed nearly all the rooms and property in the one-storey building, adjacent a filling station owned by the former commissioner, started from the apartment where Mientei and his girlfriend were.
The source, who claimed to be a sibling of the victim (Mientei), said when the fire allegedly started, the duo, Mientei and Happiness were sleeping.
He said the deceased got knowledge of the fire when the whole room they were in had already been enveloped by smoke.
He said on that day, there were two other persons who were in another room in the house, but they managed to escape death.
Another source, who described himself simply as a Pastor, said Mientei was from Southern Ijaw area of the state while his girlfriend, Happiness, hailed from Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
He said the fire destroyed all the properties in the house as the entire rooms were razed.
It was learnt that firefighters arrived the scene after some hours.
The presence of the firefighters, were, however, said to have saved other buildings in the neighbourhood, including a filling station, Dannielo Pulo, from being consumed.
He said the firefighters did their best to extinguish the fire, noting that their efforts were commendable.
When PUNCH Metro visited the scene on Saturday evening, it was noticed that scores of sympathisers on the premises were still discussing the incident in hushed tones, wearing mournful faces.
One of the sympathisers, who gave her name only as Preye, said she saw the building burning around 5am, unknown to her that her girlfriend was involved.
Preye said it was in the morning of Saturday she learnt that her friend had been killed by the fire.
Preye, who lamented she had lost a wonderful friend, said they were together on that fateful day before her friend (Happiness) said she was going out that day.
She prayed God to repose the soul of Happiness, whom she described as beautiful, easygoing, intelligent and amiable person.
When contacted, spokesman for the State Police Command, Asinim Butswat, confirmed the inferno, saying the police responded to the distress call quickly.
He, however, said he had not been fully briefed on the casualty figure.
He promised to make further contact with the Divisional Police Officer of the division to ascertain if the fire caused any deaths.
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