StoneCastle Hotel located along Okigwe road axis in Orji, Owerri North LGA suffered a severe fire outbreak on Tuesday morning. The fire outbreak caused uncontrollable panic within the axis because the residents of the area were still in deep shock over a gas plant explosion at Okpokiri petroleum station that claimed lives and destroyed properties.
The gas explosion occurred in less than 15 hours earlier, killing four people instantly and leaving many people with various degrees of injuries. Orji community and indeed surrounding neighbourhood are saddened over this incidence. The distance between the Okpokiri gas plant and StoneCastle Hotel is less than a kilometre.
When our correspondent visited the incident, he saw a mammoth crowd including men from Nigeria police force, firefighters, guests, sympathisers and management of the hotel. Great efforts were made to quench the fire by firefighters who responded swiftly; this prevented the fire from affecting other buildings within the area including the Imo Girls’ College Owerri, which shares the fence with the Hotel.
Our correspondent learnt that the incident occurred few minutes after the hour of 8 in the morning, the fire outbreak left guests scampering from one direction to another. Many of them abandoned their rooms and ran outside.
Further investigation from our team of reporters led by Ethelbert Obinna Umeh discovered that the inferno started from the powerhouse, but with the quick intervention from the Imo State Fire service, the fire was prevented from spreading to the main Hotel building and surrounding buildings.
Addressing pressmen shortly after the incidence, Francis Ekeocha from Imo State fire service said that properties worth millions were destroyed by the inferno; two generators, windows, doors, and electric wires were destroyed. However, at press time, the cause of the fire is still unknown, except the fact that fire originated from the powerhouse.
Reacting to the unfortunate incident, the proprietor of the hotel, Dennis Okoroafor maintained that the hotel would shut down operations immediately, to enable them to bounce back better in a couple of days. He also said that contrary to rumour, besides losing properties worth millions of naira, no casualty was recorded, all our guests were safe.