Fire broke out on Friday at the Isolo area Lagos factory of Ranona Nigeria Limited, makers of FreshYo yoghurt, Blue Boat Fruit Milk, among other beverage products.
The fire which allegedly started from the mixing unit of the plant had already consumed about five sections of the factory before fire fighters arrived at the scene.
Workers at the factory, which is located at Afprint Way, along the busy Oshodi/Apapa Express way, Isolo, said they ran from the premises when they noticed thick smoke gushing from a section of the factory.
Olam Nigeria the parent company of Ranona confirmed on Saturday there was a fire incident at their facility on 1st April 2016, where juice and dairy products are manufactured. However, no life was lost as all staff was able to evacuate the building.
According to a statement released by Olam, fire broke out at around 2pm and immediately, the Lagos State Fire Service, as well as the Federal Fire Service and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) were alerted.
In parallel, in-house fire and safety procedures to get staff to safety were immediately initiated.
The company added that its fire equipment was mobilized to contain the fire until the arrival of the emergency services. The statement commended the efforts of the agencies and noted that their fast intervention ensured that the damage was contained only to property.
The General Manager of LASEMA, Mr. Michael Akindele, said that the factory was surrounded by combustible materials, chemicals and gas which strengthened the spread of the fire.
He added that collaborative efforts were underway to contain the fire.
However, he added that the “the fate of the factory was dim unless the company have good insurance cover. All hands are on deck and no casualties for now.”
A female worker, who asked not to be named, said: “I was in the factory arranging some cartons of juice when I heard that there was fire outbreak. We immediately ran out of the factory but didn’t know the real cause of the fire.”
One of the company’s drivers, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I was trying to bring out my van from the premises and wanted the security men to sign my papers when I suddenly saw fire. Although fire fighters were here early but they could not put out the fire.”
A leader of the worker’s union, who did not want his name in print said that the fire incident translated to a huge loss for the company as it recently acquired expensive equipment.
He said: “One thing I’m not happy about is that ever since they called the fire fighters, only one of them showed up and the water they brought was not even enough to put out the fire. We have lost machines worth millions of naira, especially the tetra-pack machines. Now, it’s very likely they may lay us off and close down the company and it will definitely affect us.
Some workers were seen helping family members of managers who live on the premises remove their belongings.
Ranona’s factory, which was built in 2010, is worth N7.5 billion and covers 20,000sqm of prime land in Isolo. As at 2015, the company employed 350 workers.
Ranona is a franchisee of Candia, a French dairy manufacturer. The company produces Natures Fresh Fruit Juice, YoJus, Blue Boat Cereal, Blue Boat Fruit Milk and Blue Boat Oats, among others.