Goods worth over N400million were on Friday consumed by fire at the free zone section of Ariaria International Market Aba, Abia State.

The fire which razed over six shops in the market was said to have started around 12 midnight but was quenched at 5am after the Ariaria Police Division alerted the Abia State Fire Service at Aba.

A trader at the section who declined to have her name on print said that news about the incident filtered in around 3am and when they got to the scene, the six shops has already been lost to the inferno.

He added that the timely intervention of the fire service personnel saved four shops fully stocked with books, said to be owned by a popular businessman in the city.

According to him, one of the most affected victims simply addressed as Bishop had his warehouse filled with high quality George clothing materials burnt.

Two other shop owners who sell mat and beverages respectively were seen lamenting the situation as they claimed to have lost all their goods and huge amount of cash to the incident.

?I got to know about the incident around 1am. When I got to my shop, the fire has consumed all my goods and money I kept in my drawer. Where will I start from? Who will help me? I?m finished?, a trader who was said to be a dealer on foreign clothing materials lamented.

Another trader who deals on beverages said what he was able to recover from the burnt shop was not up to N10, 000.

A cross section of traders and sympathizers who thronged the area wondered how a line that has not had electric supply for more than a month could be consumed by fire without trace.

A man identified as Ebere who is the Chief Security Officer of Ariaria International Market allegedly barred some of the affected shop owners from speaking to our correspondent.

The owner of the burnt beverage shop also confirmed to our correspondent that he was warned not to talk to the press by the CSO, stressing that severe punishment awaits any trader that flouts the order.

When our correspondent persisted, he said, ?I would liked to speak to you, but we have been warned not to talk to press people or allow them take pictures of our shops. I don?t want to fall into trouble with the CSO. You see my shop has been burnt; I already have enough trouble on my hands. Please leave me alone.?

247ureports. com reports that the Ariaria Police Division have mounted security at the area and warned journalists to get permission from the Divisional Police Officer before speaking to the affected traders or be dealt with.

When contacted, Director, Abia State Fire service, Victor Gbaruko said his men moved into action when they got a call that the area was under fire attack.

?Though the cause of the fire is still unknown, traders who stock goods for the season should ensure that they don?t pack it up to the roof level as a change in temperature could ignite fire outbreak without warning.

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