18 cars lost in inferno
EIGHTEEN cars worth thousands of dollars were yesterday burnt to shells at a garage along Seke Road in Harare while the Fire Brigade officials who attended the scene watched helplessly after coming with a fire tender that allegedly did not have water.
The owner of the garage located at Ledco Missions Complex, Mr Moses Kashitigu, said he was yet to calculate the loss after most of his clients’ cars were destroyed.
A veld fire is suspected to have caused the inferno. The Environment Management Authority (EMA) yesterday urged Harare residents to create fireguards that were nine metres wide.
Mr Kashitigu said the fire brigade arrived when the first car was burning but could not put out the fire because they didn’t have water.
“The first fire brigade tender that came here had no water and they watched while the fire spread,” he said.
“Their backup fire tender is the one which came with water but it was too late to save the situation.
“Most people had brought their cars for repair and I am devastated. The garage didn’t have insurance and I know that individuals have insurances but I doubt if they had comprehensive insurance.
“This is a complete setback. At the moment I don’t know what I will do because this was my source of livelihood.
“Maybe if I relocate to another place I may be able to make a fresh start,” he said.
Mr Kashitigu said he shared the garage with Mr Malvern Mutwaro who was not present and his clients’ vehicles were also destroyed.
“I lost 12 cars and six of them are a complete write off. The fire started after lunch and I suspect it was started by people who live along Mukuvisi River bank,” he said.
He said they had created fire guards but something that looked like a tyre exploded from the river bank and landed on one of the vehicles, sparking the inferno that destroyed the 18 cars.
“Some people who came to help took advantage of the situation and started stealing tools and spares and other accessories from the burning cars.”
The owner of the premises Mr Barbour Kativho said people tried to put out the fire using buckets of water while fire brigade officials watched.
“I suspect the fire was started by urban farmers who do their gardening along Mukuvisi River bank,” he said.
“The people were probably clearing the land and due to strong winds the fire-guard became useless. “This is a sad moment.” City of Harare spokesperson Mr Michael Chideme said the fire brigade was a professional entity and never attended a scene without water.
He said residents had a negative attitude towards the institution.
“People have a negative attitude toward our fire brigade but their vehicles always attend to a scene with water. The water output they use is very high and their water sometimes doesn’t last long and they have to use the local fire hydrants.
“However, most of these hydrants are vandalised making it difficult for the fire brigade. We attend to not less than 15 veld fires every day and our fire brigade is professional.”
EMA spokesperson Mr Steady Kangata said property owners in urban and rural setups should create proper fireguards, especially during this time of the year.
“The fireguards should be nine metres wide and if people share a boundary the nine metres should be on both sides. The fireguard should be around the property,’’ said Mr Kangata.