By Onyedikachi Anyaonyeabor
EARLY philosophers provided that water, air, earth, and fire are the primary elements for universal existence. It was indeed a contention among them as to which was ‘the fundamental unity underlying the diversity of things.’
Though some others adduced their own ideas other than these four elements, the argument was ‘hanged’ on all of them- water, air, earth and fire since they are all important to man ‘s existence.
Among the various man-made disasters, fire disaster is most frequent. They are caused by the following: negligence, carelessness, accident and willful acts.
It occurs through negligence when someone fails to take safety precautions such as switching–off electrical appliances in homes or offices before leaving such places or during power outages. In such occasions, power may be returned with high voltage that may spark off fire thereby setting such building ablaze.
Sometimes, they preserve petrol or keep over floating generators within their habitations. These do catch fire when exposed to naked fire. A careless cigarette smoker can also cause fire outbreak by carelessly throwing its stubs on dry leaves and inflammable materials, and this may set-off fire.
In some occasions too, permitting inexperienced people to make use of gas cookers and baking ovens may also cause fire outbreaks. Some do forget that they have put something on fire which may over heat and set-off fire, while some may leave such on fire and run a little errand which during each incident, fire may be started off before their return.
Placing candle lights or lit match on such things as wooden furniture, plastic utensil, cottons/blinds, rugs, carpets and foams, among others, are known to have caused fire outbreaks too. Such incident occurred on Tuesday, December 26, 2017, at Umudunu village, Abagana, Njikoka Local Government Area, Anambra State, when a little boy lit up one of their foams with a match.
According to an eye witness who pleaded anonymity, “the little boy lit up a piece of foam which caught fire in their apartment on the second floor of the building that set the apartment ablaze.
He further stated that “alarm was raised when the fire outbreak was discovered. But before help could come, the fire had grown beyond control.
“The horrible aspect of the story was that the boy gripped with fear, ran into hiding in a wardrobe and was consumed by the inferno he caused.”
Furthermore, trucks carrying inflammable substances such as petrol and gas do catch fire when involved in accidents, thus, setting its environs ablaze.
Petrol stations are also known to have caused fire accidents. In those days, petrol stations were isolated from residential areas and densely populated areas. But these days, it is evident that the practice is no longer tenable as petrol stations abound not only in residential areas but also in thickly/densely populated ones, thereby making lives of people and property prone to destruction by fire disasters whenever such occurs.
Again, most devastating wide spread fire disasters occur through willful acts of hunters and herdsmen that burn bushes to suit their purposes.
For the hunters, their main aim is to disengage animals from their hideouts for kills while for the herdsmen; it is to produce early green growths for the pasturing of their cows. Though their intentions are always to serve useful economic purposes, the havoc these bush burnings cause are more enormous and disastrous than the little economic benefits they serve.
On many occasions, homes, farms, plantations, are wasted. For instance, on Friday, January 5, 2018, at Normu village Enugwu Agidi, the resident of a journalist auditor, Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) Anambra State Council and a staff of Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (National Light), Mrs Uche Kalu was gutted by fire caused by alleged expedition of hunters. Property, cash worth millions of naira and her relevant documents which included her academic credentials, titled documents of deeds and books were devastated, living her empty and dejected.
Importantly too, bush burnings particularly by hunters and herdsmen are most prevalent during the harmattan period. It is known that harmattan is a period of ‘dryness’ of grasses, woods, and leaves, that burn easily.
Equally, it is a fact that harmattan period is a period for haziness and massive movement of wind. It follows therefore that any occasion of fire incident will involve vast areas including farms, plantations and insecure premises beyond human control.
The aftermath of these fire disasters are that huge livestock, buildings, household effects , plantations, forests, woods, are wantonly destroyed thereby living their victims in enduring ‘pains from a bite from tooth of sorrow.’
Significantly too, soil infertility inimical to good farm productivity is caused, erosions are enhanced, wild lives are reduced, and a lot of environmental degradations are brought about. Sometimes too, losses of human lives are caused.
It is trite that there are existing laws (decree, bye-laws, edicts and regulations) regulating bush burning and location of petrol stations within residential areas. I also known that there are other agencies responsible for the enforcement of such laws.
As a matter of importance and urgency, these laws should be re-invigorated and the outfits vested with the responsibility of enforcing them should be encouraged and instructed to be alert to their responsibilities.