IT was wailing and gnashing of teeth at Ultima Studios, Omole, Lagos, as the multi-million edifice went up in flames on Sunday, August 22, 2010. The studios where the popular, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and MTN Project Fame are being held were razed to the ground and property worth billions naira equally burnt.
Information available to us revealed that the ugly incident started around 8.30 p.m after the recording of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire session which began at 10 a.m.
The show came to an end around 7 p.m with over 300 guests in attendance. Shortly after the recording, some of the staffers left while some stayed behind to edit the recording.
Informed sources disclosed that barely after 8.30 p.m, some of the air-conditioners in the studio used for MTN Project Fame sparked and ignited fire which unfortunately affected a gas cylinder standing nearby. Immediately, it snowballed into a huge inferno which completely razed the entire studio. Afterwards, it spiralled into the adjacent structure which also housed the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Studio. Sadly, it also got burnt completely.
Inside sources squealed that all their equipment for recording and editing were destroyed in the fire. We reliably gathered that just recently before the commencement of the MTN Project Fame West Africa Season 3, equipment worth over N500m were imported for the show. New set of cameras, lightings, rods, screens, editing machines and a host of others were acquired. All these were sophisticated gadgets that are obtainable in international recording studios. Sadly, nothing was left in the midst of the ruins.
ENCOMIUM Weekly check on Monday, August 23, 2010 confirmed the gory tale. The atmosphere was tensed and the female crew members in tears. The whole building used for the two popular shows within the Murhi International complex was razed to the ground. One of the staffers who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed that immediately the fire started, the remaining twelve contestants in Project Fame were evacuated and moved to a nearby hotel, Durban International Hotel, Omole, Lagos. Another staff revealed to ENCOMIUM Weekly that the inferno was a huge loss. “It is like starting from the scratch.” One of the female crew members who could not control her emotions was in tears and all she could mutter was, “I was still recording here yesterday.” Also, award winning actress and the Academy principal, Joke Sylva was at a loss. She, however, braced herself up and encouraged the wailing staffers that it is well. “When Christians say it is well, it mans they are looking up to God to do a mighty miracle which is beyond them. However, nobody envisaged such a situation.”
Speaking to ENCOMIUM Weekly on behalf of the General Manager/CEO of Ultima Studios, Mr. Olumide Akinlabi, Head of Media, said it was a monumental loss. “I left the studio on Sunday night. I have not gotten to where I was going before they called me back that there was a fire outbreak in the studio. In fact, I am short of words because it was a monumental loss.”
On the issue of what becomes the fate of the two reality shows, the management kept mute.
Mr. Busola Holloway, president of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN), an association whom the Ultima Limited belong spoke on behalf of the owner of Ultima, Mr. Femi Ayeni has this to say:
How will you describe the fire incident here today?
It’s a monumental loss, no word could describe the loss here. As you can see everything is in ruins.
How soon should we expect the shows (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Project Fame) back?
Most times those shows are pre-recorded and we have some editions not yet played. I don’t think viewers should worry because if it means recording in somebody’s bedroom the show must go on.
In your own estimation, like how much do you think have been damaged by fire?
How much is lost? More than a hundred and ten per cent.
What do you think might have caused the fire?
I don’t like to speculate, in a studio like this we have foams, inflammable objects. The walls were retarded with foams and all that, so they burn easily and fast. So, I wouldn’t establish the cause of the fire at the moment.
Ultima Limited was established in 1987. It’s the foremost premium TV production company in Nigeria and West Africa. With production facilities in Nigeria, Ghana for West Africa and Nairobi to service the East African market.
The state-of-the-art studio is located at Murhi House, Plot 45, Omole Industrial Layout, Ogba/Isheri Junction, Ogba, Ikeja, Lagos.
It is the proud owner of the two most popular shows in West Africa, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and MTN Project Fame West Africa.
- THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN ENCOMIUM WEEKLY ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 24, 2010