A yet-to-be-identified man was on Tuesday burnt to death in a fire that engulfed the newly constructed head office of Providus Bank on Adeola Odeku, Victoria Island, Lagos State.

The fire, which emanated from the generator section of the bank, also injured two other persons.

The victims, a white man and two other colleagues, were said to have stood on the generator tank while using a drilling machine on it.

The tank, which contained diesel, exploded, as the impact flung the three men away.

An eyewitness, Shola Adebayo, said the contractors started working on the tank around 9am before the explosion occurred.

He said, “I was sitting at my duty post when I saw a white man and two other workers. They were trying to drill a hole in the generator fuel tank from the top. The first one they drilled, the drilling object cut and they had to remove it and fix another one. They did the second one and the whole thing started vibrating. They changed the object five times. It was on their fifth attempt that the tank blew up.

“Two of them were flung onto the road, while the remaining person got stuck and the fire caught up with him. The fire was much and he could not escape. The people around really tried. They were the ones that put out the fire before the fire service arrived.”

Another eyewitness, who refused to give his name for security reasons, said the two survivors were seriously injured.

He said, “I saw the white man and another person on the floor. The other person was bleeding from his nose and could not even stand up from the floor. He was taken to a hospital. The white man was also injured on one side of his stomach, but he struggled to stand up and walked by himself to a nearby hospital.”

Our correspondent observed that a patrol vehicle belonging to the Rapid Response Squad, which was parked close to the entrance of the bank, was burnt.

A security guard, who works in a company in the area and spoke on condition of anonymity due to the nature of his job, said people were looking for the police officers to remove the car, but they were nowhere to be found.

He said, “Immediately the explosion happened, the diesel from the tank started spreading towards where the car was parked. That was when we started looking for the police officers because none of them was in the car, but we didn’t see them. By the time they arrived, the car was already on fire.”

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident.

He said, “The fire started on the bank’s premises on Tuesday morning. Our vehicle got burnt, but our officers were not affected. One person died and others were injured. The injured persons have been hospitalised.”

The Public Education Officer, Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service, Amodu Shakiru, said preliminary investigation revealed that the generator fuel was not emptied while the repair work was ongoing.

He said, “You cannot be fixing a generator without emptying its content. If you have to fix a generator, you have to empty the fuel inside. Unfortunately, that was what caused the fire and the generator was also burnt.”

The Director, Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service, Adeseye Margaret, in a statement, said the incident was being investigated.

She said, “Unfortunately, a male adult was recovered severely burnt beyond recognition and handed over to the police from the Bar-Beach division, while the four-storey-commercial building was saved and the RRS policemen escaped unhurt.”

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