Goods and property worth millions of naira were on Wednesday destroyed in a fire around Okwelle axis of Mile 2 in Port Harcourt.
A witness, Chukwuma Atamkpo, said a female resident forgot to put out a candle she lit, which spread and destroyed over 30 makeshift houses around 6.30am.
He said as the fire raged, thick smoke billowed into the atmosphere, as residents ran in different directions, trying to recover what their hands could reach.
Atamkpo noted that many youths in the densely populated area used water and detergent to battle the fire before firefighters arrived.
The witness, who is also a member of the Port Harcourt City Local Government Area
Security Watch, said he spotted the fire while at his duty post.
A resident, Christian Alali, said he was preparing for work when he saw the smoke from one of the rooms.
“So, before they could fight the fire, it escalated to the roof level and affected other buildings.
“If not for the help of security men and youths around even before the fire service from the state government came, it would have been worse,” he added.
Also, a female resident said she was at work when the fire started, adding that she lost all her property to the inferno.
Our correspondent, who was at the scene, observed that men of the local neighbourhood security watch were on ground to prevent hoodlums from looting the property of residents that were recovered.