Fire ripped through a crowded neighbourhood in Nigeria's largest city on Wednesday and wounded at least 30 people after a huge explosion rocked a building believed to be storing fireworks, officials said.
The blast and fire led to panic in the densely packed area of Lagos, a city of some 15 million people, with residents jumping from windows to flee and others salvaging goods from their shops in the neighbourhood's large market.
Fireworks continued to explode well after the fire began while smoke was heavy and the blaze intense, making it difficult for rescue workers and firefighters to approach the scene.
Huge crowds gathered in the area, including onlookers and those seeking to help.
Three tankers at the scene from the fire service later ran out of water and an emergency official said military personnel had been called in to help. More water arrived later in the day and the blaze appeared to be gradually subsiding.
Officials said the blaze appeared to have begun at a warehouse storing fireworks, where a major explosion shook parts of the sprawling city.
A building stocked with fireworks on fire in Lagos on December 26, 2012. A strong explosion hit a building believed to be storing fireworks for the Christmas and New Year festivals in the sprawling Lagos Island, the oldest and most denely packed neighbourhoods in the Nigerian economic capital Lagos.
An emergency source said initial reports indicated fire caused the explosion at the building, but an official statement from the National Emergency Management Agency later said the precise cause was yet to be determined.
The fire spread following the explosion, with at least nine buildings in the neighbourhood ablaze when an AFP journalist arrived on the scene.
A school across from the warehouse was badly damaged from the blast, with windows shattered and materials inside affected.
Residents rushed to help firefighters as they neared the fire, bringing containers of water and helping carry hoses, but the volatile situation made it difficult.
"We have treated up to 30 people so far," Red Cross worker Nicolas Adesile told AFP at the scene, adding there had not been any reports of deaths.
One man treated for a cut on his leg said he jumped from his building to escape.
"I had to jump from the first floor to save my life," Wasiu Olaleye said.
Officials were seeking to confirm further details on the incident, with the force of the explosion so strong that rumours even spread over whether there had been a plane crash.
A man carries goods salvaged from a building stocked with fireworks on fire in Lagos on December 26, 2012. Fire ripped through a crowded neighbourhood in Nigeria's largest city and wounded at least 30 people after a huge explosion rocked a building believed to be storing fireworks, officials said.
"While security agencies would investigate and determine the real cause of the explosion and fire outbreaks, casualty figures are yet to be determined," NEMA said in a statement.
"But some residents who were injured while attempting to assist in putting off the fire have been taken to hospital for treatment. So far no death has been recorded."
Rescue workers had difficulty reaching the scene due to traffic and crowds. Residents reported hearing the explosion and running, with some helping fetch water for firefighters.
Wednesday was a public holiday in Nigeria, though some shops in the area were open.
"We just heard 'bwaahhh!' and before we knew it we saw fire coming from the building," said one man who had been on his nearby balcony.
The incident occurred in Jankara, home to a large market and located in the Lagos Island area, among the oldest and most densely packed neighbourhoods in the city.
Fireworks are popular in Nigeria during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation with some 160 million people, and Lagos is considered the continent's second-largest city after Cairo.