By Temitope Adedeji in Akure
Tears rolled freely on Christmas Day as residents of Oke Ibukun Street, off Araromi, in Akure, Ondo State capital, woke up to a raging fire which consumed a popular clinic, Universal Medical Clinic, and its owner, Dr. David Oguntuase.
WESTERN POST authoritatively gathered that the fire began around 12.30 am on Thursday when neighbours and every other person were fast asleep. No one could immediately ascertain the cause of the inferno.
Sympathisers could not hold back their tears as they watched the remains of the victim, in the midst of the rubble of the building, already burnt beyond recognition.
It was learnt that the late doctor worked as a pediatrician at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Owo while he also maintained a private clinic in Akure.
Some residents were said to have made efforts to halt the fire from consuming the building completely but their moves to get firemen to the scene failed, as none of the fire officers came to the scene in spite of repeated calls made to them.
A resident who gave his name as Ajayi Olorunlogbon said, “The incident occurred around midnight and I just heard people shouting ‘fire, fire.’ I quickly called other residents in the street for the rescue.
“We mobilized and looked for water to pour on the building to salvage the tragedy but all our efforts proved abortive as the gate leading to the clinic was already locked and we had to break it to have our way inside the building to prevent the fire from touching other houses in the street.
“We immediately called the state fire fighters but they told us there was no vehicle.”
One of the nurses who saw the late Dr. Oguntuase late on Wednesday after the day’s duty told WESTERN POST that she was devastated at the incident. She described the late doctor as very lively.
She said, “We can’t state what exactly caused the tragic incident because all of us (nurses) had gone home when it occurred. All we can say is that the doctor came into the hospital on Wednesday and cracked jokes with us about the celebration of Christmas and later told us to go home for a happy celebration leaving only him behind.
“Before we all left, he instructed us to lock all the windows and doors, which we did and later left only him behind while we all left. We were even happy that the doctor released us. We never knew this will happen. It is very sad.”
She added that the hospital had discharged all the patients because of the Christmas holiday, but the doctor stayed behind while they left. Another resident of the street, Temitope Adelani, said no one knew the doctor was inside the building when the fire was raging because his vehicle was not there.
“Throughout the process of breaking the padlock to enter into the clinic, we never knew the doctor was inside the building because he did not park his vehicle outside. It was when we were making efforts to quench the fire from entering other compounds that we realized the doctor had died in the fire.”
He said during the rescue effort, a gas cylinder in the clinic also exploded, adding that there was no public power supply and no generator was on at the time of the fire.
Officers of the Fire Service in the state could not be reached, but Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Wole Ogodo, confirmed the incident. He said the state police command had begun investigation into the cause of the fire.
He said: “The doctor was consumed in the inferno in his clinic and we have commenced our investigation while his corpse has been taken to the morgue for autopsy”.
Ogodo added that the wife of the late doctor, Wuraola, came to report the incident at the A-Division Police Station in Akure.