Seven persons were reportedly killed while many others secured varying degrees of injuries during a fire incident at an illegal crude oil refining site in Otor-Edo community, Ughelli South council area of Delta state at the weekend.

Local sources, who spoke under conditions of anonymity, told The Nation that the fire occurred when the activities of the illegal oil refiners went wrong, adding that not less than seven deaths had been counted so far.

When The Nation visited the community, the reception from those with whom the first contacts were made was rather cold as most people would rather not speak or entertain strangers asking questions about the ‘unfortunate incident’: some yelled at the reporter while others ran off at his sight. It was also difficult to gain access through the community into the site of the fire incident.

However, a community source, who ensured there was no third party from his community around before agreeing to speak on the incident said seven corpses had been counted from the fire scene, adding that it was fairly certain that the illegal activities going on in the area led to the fire.

“Nobody will agree to speak to you here because of the circumstances surrounding the bunkering activities in the bush: JTF recently stormed the illegal refineries and scattered the place. It has not been long and here we are talking of an explosion in the same site.

“Seven people died in the fire and many others got injured, it is a serious matter and that is why nobody will speak of it. People from different places are involved in it”, he said, almost in whispers.

The Nation gathered that a team from the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe (OPDS), had recently visited the illegal refining site, destroying it and all the equipment used in the illegal activities going on in the place.

Meanwhile, when reached for confirmation, the Delta state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Adeyinka Adeleke, said the police was aware of the fire, but was not aware of any death, adding that investigation was already on to arrest perpetrators.

“You must be talking about that place where they do illegal refining. We have no prove of death, we are even making investigations to get those who might have gotten burns from it, but we are yet to get anyone. They know what they are doing is illegal so they will try to hide their loses as discreetly as possible,” he said.