A fire outbreak from an explosion at Saclux Paints Industry in Umuahia, the Abia capital, on Sunday destroyed a missionary school building in the neighbourhood.

The owner of the school, known as Love for Africa Mission, said that a tanker, allegedly bearing ‘black oil’ exploded inside the company’s premises around 1pm.

The fire started with an explosion shortly after they ended Sunday service at the school.

“We ended the Sunday service around 12:15 pm and I was trying to lock up the gate, when I heard a heavy explosion, accompanied with billows of heavy smoke and fire moving up the sky.

“The incident caused panic and stampede as everyone of us scampered into different areas, including the nearby bush, for safety,” he said.

The fire later spread into the school building, which doubles as his family residence as oil from the tanker spilled into the premises.

As the fire raged, some youths in the area made attempts to move into his building in order to rescue some valuables.

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Okereke said that he restrained them because he feared that they might be trapped in the inferno.

“But when they insisted and attempted to pull down the entrance gate, I gave them the key with which they entered the compound,” he said.

He said that the sympathisers succeeded in pushing out the two jeeps that were parked in the compound.

He could not ascertain the extent of damage, saying that no other property was recovered from the building.

Another eyewitness account suggest that a firefighting truck from the state fire service came to the scene but failed to battle to inferno after it ran out of water.

The fire fighters returned to the scene and eventually put out the fire with the assistance of a commercial water tanker driver in the area.