Nigerian firefighters were battling two fires that broke out almost simultaneously Tuesday at a busy market in central Lagos, the country’s largest city and commercial center.
Balogun Market, where the fires erupted, is one of Nigeria’s largest textile markets.
“We have split our team in two to fight both fires,” Ganiyu Olayiwola, head of the Federal Fire Service in Lagos, told The Associated Press. The two fires don’t appear to be related, he said, adding that it wasn’t immediately clear if there were any casualties.
Thick black smoke and flames were shooting up from five-story buildings surrounding the market as firetrucks attempted to get access to the fire. Residents were throwing what belongings they could from the buildings and some people on the rooftops were using small buckets of water to try to stop the fire.
The fire started in the morning and became a major blaze by midday, with firefighters trying to keep the flames from spreading.
The Balogun market sprawls across many blocks on Lagos Island. It is well known as one of the best places in Lagos to buy colorful Nigerian fabrics, apparel and shoes.
Fires and other disasters are frequent on Lagos Island where the Balogun market is located. In March, at least 20 people, most of them schoolchildren, died with the collapse of a three-story building housing a school, residential apartments and shops.