REPORT: The fire at Ultima

Nothing prepared the entire crew of the MTN

Project Fame West Africa and

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for the shock that awaited them at some minutes after nine in the evening on Sunday 22 August. According to an eye witness, they had finished shooting the second season of the ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ Game Show in one of the two studious and had taken their leave only to be called via their phones that there was a fire outbreak at the Ultima Studios where both shows are being taped. H

He went on to say that the manager, Adebanki Adetunji, had gone to have his meal when he heard the news. He returned to find a fire that razed down the whole building and equipment worth millions of naira.

At the studio in Omole area of Lagos State, there were staff and sympathizers looking pensive, fire extinguisher strewn on  the floor, and a notice at the entrance of their next door neighbor, WEMA Bank, announcing to customers that business couldn’t hold today due to the incident, directing them to their sister branches.

Ben Ogbowei, music teacher of the contestants on Project Fame, was at the venue, but refused to give comments. He directed this reporter to a number of staff who also declined comment. Finally someone indicated that only the manager has authority to speak about the incident. 

The manager however refused to comment, asking the journalists to wait for a media representative who was in traffic and on his way. Unfortunately, even the media spokesperson wouldn’t say anything, only indicating that the press should expect their press release after “consultation with some of our stakeholders” – it all showed the understandable level of confusion following the incident.

Commenting on the matter however, Inyanya, the first winner of Project Fame West Africa from the same studios, who is himself mourning over the loss of his mother and is out of Lagos, said he got to know about the incident via a call from a friend and that he was indeed truly sad about it.

Joseph Benjamin, one of the show’s presenters, who was in total shock after he got an instant message about the incident on his Blackberry when was on set shooting somewhere in Lagos. “I thought it was a joke,” he told us. “Everyone that knows me who heard the news was just calling me, I heard a huge crowd was there … at that point I got there at after eleven in the night, I was totally devastated on what I saw …’

Asked if it would stall the show, he said no, noting that the show will go on, with a change of venue. Indeed, some crew members could be found trying to salvage what they could from the building for filming somewhere else.

According to Biodun Caston-Dada, the publisher of Acada, “The fire which was said to have started around 8pm on Sunday night from an electrical sparks in one of the studios burnt down the whole building and all the company’s equipments which ran into several millions of Naira.”

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