No one had the premonition that such a tragic event was about to happen. The 2016 Olympic Games, taking place in Brazil, which is several hours behind the Nigerian time, daytime over there is late night in Nigeria. had just started and as usual many Nigerians were following the progress of the Nigerian Dream Team VI.
So many Nigerians are staying up late if they have to watch some matches, including some some sporting events.
So it was with the Anthony Kwamni family of Jenta Adamu, a suburb of Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State recently. The area was thrown into mourning and confusion last Monday as a result of a mysterious fire that razed the three-bed room apartment, resulting in the death of the head of the family, retired ASP Anthony Kwamni and three of his children. His wife, who escaped the incident with severe burns, is now receiving treatment at Bingham University Teaching Hospital in Jos.
Brimming with excitement and patriotism that their country had prevailed after the Nigeria-Sweden match, the Kwamni family must have retired to bed, expecting to have a good night rest, but it was not to be. The fire incident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. when all the family members were fast asleep. The inferno was said to have been caused by power surge which led to a spark from the ceiling and further aided by a generator in the premises.
Sunday Tribune learnt that retired ASP Kwamni died in the process of rescuing his children – Theresa Kwamni, Emmanuel Kwamni and Kerry Kwamni – from the fire and thick smoke that enveloped their room while their mother was rescued by youths who broke the wall to aid her escape from the inferno.
A relation of the family, Mrs. Juliana Matthew who is yet to recover from the shock of the incident said she was with the family a night to the incident to attend to some family issues, adding that throughout her stay until she left at about 10:00 p.m, the family was in good spirit and radiated the joy of the bond that held them together as a family, as usual, without any premonition that dearth was lurking around.
According to her, she was escorted by Kwamni’s wife to a nearby junction before both of them bid each other good night.
It was further learnt that the breadwinner of the family, Kwamni, interacted with his children as usual, on the need to be of good conduct and behaviour before going to bed. A source close to the family who described the retired police officer as a ‘no nonsense man’ said people in the area knew him to be a disciplinarian who abhored injustice.
A neighbour who was part of the rescue team that put out the fire said those in the neighbourhood were attracted to the scene of the incident by the wailing and crying of the family members who were trapped in the inferno.
He stated that youths in the neighbourhood who mobilised themselves and other residents to salvage the situation could not gain access to the building as a result of thick smoke and intense fire but had to break the wall to rescue the mother and a child which later died at the hospital, while the father and two other children died in the inferno.
A family source who craved anonymity said the fire was caused by electrical spark on the ceiling and from there spread to the room where the children were sleeping, adding that the breadwinner of the family died in the inferno, while trying to rescue his children.
“All the family members had gone to bed when the incident occurred but when the father noticed the fire, he along with his wife, dashed to the children’s room where the fire was raging but was trapped in the room and died along with the children before they could be rescued, “ the source told Sunday Tribune.
The source disclosed further that the fire could have spread to neighbouring houses but for the youth in the area who mobilised themselves to curtail the fire and subsequently arrested the situation. It was further gathered that the building was reduced to rubble because men of the state Fire Service could not have direct access to the building due to its location.
However amidst wailing and crying, the deceased family members were buried in Shendam Local Government Area of the state last Tuesday. Arrival of the corpses into the town temporarily paralysed activities as many residents abandoned their businesses to sympathise with the relations.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Tyopev Mathias, who confirmed the incident said the bread winner of the family along with three other children lost their lives in the inferno, adding that two other members of the family are currently receiving treatment in the hospital.