By Innocent Ruwende
An inferno yesterday reduced to shells six vehicles at an automotive workshop outside Siyaso SMEs complex in Magaba, Harare, bringing to five the number of major fire incidences which occurred in the country in the past four days, in which property worth millions of dollars has been destroyed.
The city’s corporate communications manager, Mr Michael Chideme, said the fire was started by scrap metal dealers who were melting copper nearby and quickly spread to the nearby vehicles.
“All six vehicles were destroyed,” he said. “The Fire Brigade contained the fire. The fire did not affect Siyaso as it happened several metres away from the complex. One of the dealers is believed to be a 12-year-old who ran away after starting the fire.
“Fire danger rating is so high this season, so we urge people not to use things that may cause fire such as smoking and throwing away the stubs and any other things that may cause fire.”
One of the proprietors of the car breakers and scrapyard, Mr Tyson Chabarwa, said the fire broke out from a nearby stream.
“There were some youths who were smelting copper and when they saw us coming they sped off,” he said. “After they ran away, we noticed the fire was becoming uncontrollable and we failed to extinguish it using buckets. We called the fire brigade which arrived on the scene.
“Three functional cars were burnt, the others were non-runners. We managed to move two other cars away. The lorry had gas bottles and other items we use. We used it as a storeroom. We are estimating that the damage here has cost us between $39 000 and $40 000.”
The incident follows a number of fire incidents that have been witnessed lately across the country, with the first one claiming the lives of 32 people in West Nicholson last week when a bus they were travelling in caught fire following a suspected gas cylinder explosion.
Some of the victims were burnt to ashes.
About two thirds of the Glen View Area 8 Home Industries Complex along Willowvale Road in Harare was on Monday gutted by a fire that broke out in the afternoon, destroying property worth millions of dollars belonging to informal traders.
Three shops in Kadoma – Edgars, Jet and Coloursell – were also razed in a blaze causing the destruction of furniture and clothing items worth thousands of dollars.
Three days ago, Mpilo Central Hospital doctors in Bulawayo were left homeless after an inferno engulfed their living quarters, destroying property valued at nearly $300 000.
Police yesterday confirmed all the fire incidences which occurred in Harare, Bulawayo and Kadoma between November 17 and 20.
Police spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said the causes of the fire incidents could not be ascertained and no injuries or deaths were recorded.
“On 19 November 2018, at around 1915, Laxman Complex in Kadoma, which houses Coloursell Furniture, Jet and Edgars Stores, was gutted by fire,” she said.
“In Harare, on 19 November 2018 at around 1500hrs, fire destroyed several properties which include furniture, timber, foam rubber and clothes at Glen View 8 Furniture Complex.
“On the same date at around 1pm, a house in Borrowable was burnt and the cause of the fire is unknown. At SiyaSo, Mbare in Harare, another fire destroyed several properties which include vehicles, sheds and a lorry on 20 November 2018.”
Snr Asst Comm Charamba said in Bulawayo, at Mpilo Hospital, another fire occurred at the doctors’ quarters on November 17 at around 2.30pm.
She said the total value of the property destroyed in the five incidences is yet to be established.
In view of these mishaps, she said, the police would like to urge property owners to pay special attention to hot grease or oil and avoid operating with naked electrical connections.
“Members of the public must exercise caution in storing flammable liquids, such as gasoline, paint, thinners and cleaning agents. Their vapours can explode or ignite if they get too hot or are exposed to static electricity,” she said. “Be sure they are capped securely and keep them away from heat sources.
“Cooking fires must be put off after use and ensure all electric gadgets are switched off when not in use. Regular checks should be conducted on electric wires in business and residential premises. Where possible Zesa officials should be engaged to ensure electrical fittings are safe.” The Herald