The Conoil filling station opposite NNPC Towers along Herbert Macaulay Way, Abuja, went into flames on Thursday as a tanker discharged the 33,000 litres of petrol it delivered.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the fire started at about 3 p.m., forcing offices around the petrol station to close.
Some of the station attendants told NAN that the cause of the fire was unknown, but that they would not rule out electrical spark or metal scratch within the area when the tanker was discharging.
Samuel Moses, an attendant, said he was at the third pump selling petrol to a customer when he saw smoke bellowing by the side of the tanker, which made people to scamper for safety.
``No one can say the cause but I was selling petrol when I saw the smoke and raised an alarm. In seconds, all of us were running for our dear lives as we know what it means.
``We even forgot about the fire extinguishers and other things put in place to fight fire at the station.
``We thank God that nobody died and all the 16 vehicles, including five other tankers were safely evacuated from the station,’’ Moses said.
No official of the station was available for comments on the incident at the time of this report.
Some sympathisers at the scene, however, said the fire could have been better controlled if the fire service had got to the filling station on time.
Isa James, a civil servant who witnessed the onset of the incident, said the fire service arrived at the scene more than 20 minutes after the fire started.
He said ``look at the distance between the fire service office and the NNPC; but it took the officers over 20 minutes to arrive, this is just unfortunate.
``If they were here earlier, they could have reduced the extent of damage and could have saved cost.’’
NAN reports that there was no fatality recorded though one person sustained head injury when an underground tank also caught fire, while three people slumped due to exhaustion and smoke which they inhaled.
The three people were later taken to hospital for proper medical attention.
NAN also reports that the fire had been successfully contained through the combined efforts of six fire vehicles, consisting one each from the National Assembly and NEMA, and four dispatched from the fire service.
Military, Police and Civil Defence Corps personnel were at the scene to control the crowd and traffic. (NAN)