18 cars lost in in­ferno

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Fun­gai Lu­pande and Ma­garet Mat­i­biri Harare Bureau

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.

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