Fire breaks out at Bu­l­awayo Rain­bow Ho­tel

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nqo­bile Tshili/ Andile Tshuma Chron­i­cle Re­porters

SCORES of guests had to be evac­u­ated from Rain­bow Ho­tel in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day fol­low­ing a fire — caused by an elec­tric fault - that left an elec­tri­cian se­verely in­jured.

Two of his col­leagues also sus­tained mi­nor in­juries dur­ing the in­ci­dent which oc­curred at around 2.50PM.

A ma­jor­ity of Cab­i­net Min­is­ters that are at­tend­ing a three­day pre-bud­get sem­i­nar at the Zim­babwe In­ter­na­tional Trade Fair in the city are guests at the ho­tel.

Wit­nesses said the elec­tri­cian’s clothes caught fire, burn­ing him in the process as he and his col­leagues tried to at­tend to the fault on the ho­tel’s sub­sta­tion in the base­ment.

He was rushed half naked to Galen House, just across the road, and was later trans­ferred to the United Bu­l­awayo Hos­pi­tals (UBH) with his col­leagues.

There was a power black­out that lasted for al­most 30 min­utes in the city cen­tre fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent.

Rain­bow Tourism Group Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and In­no­va­tions Man­ager, Ms Pride Khum­bula, said there was an elec­tri­cal fault in the base­ment of the ho­tel which re­sulted in the loss of power.

“This caused smoke to in­fil­trate the lower floors of the ho­tel. As a pre­cau­tion all guests and staff were evac­u­ated. Three tech­ni­cians who were work­ing on the fault were in­jured and trans­ported to United Bu­l­awayo Hos­pi­tals. They are, how­ever, in sta­ble con­di­tion. Cur­rently Zesa tech­ni­cians are work­ing to re­store power back to the ho­tel,” said Ms Khum­bula.

Ho­tel staff evac­u­ated guests from the build­ing as smoke fil­tered from the base­ment.

Among the evac­u­ated was a tod­dler that had been left in one of the rooms by a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

The Chron­i­cle vis­ited the ho­tel and found a crowd watch­ing a fire brigade team rush­ing into the build­ing to ex­tin­guish the fire.

Some of the MPs who were booked at the ho­tel were stranded as the build­ing was mo­men­tar­ily de­clared out of bounds for guests.

Busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives such as Zim­babwe Tourism Author­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Karikoga Kaseke were also part of the stranded guests.

One of the ho­tel’s guests said: “I could tell there was some­thing that was burn­ing but I didn’t think it could be this se­ri­ous. The ho­tel staff started com­ing to our rooms to in­form us to leave the build­ing,” said one of the guests.

Later the Rain­bow Ho­tel staff called their clients to the park­ing lot where they ex­plained the prob­lem. The ho­tel staff also con­ducted a roll call to es­tab­lish if there was any­one who was in­jured.

Act­ing Bu­l­awayo Chief Fire Of­fi­cer Mr Ed­ward Phiri said the fire could have been caused by an elec­tric spark.

“There was a fault and these guys had to come here to sort it out. While in the process of re­pair I think there was a short cir­cuit then the sub­sta­tion ex­ploded. The sparks could have ig­nited one of the elec­tri­cians’ clothes. We haven’t seen the per­son yet but we be­lieve he has been se­verely in­jured,” said Mr Phiri.

He said the ex­plo­sion was the se­cond on the same sub­sta­tion yes­ter­day. “We’ve now got a Zesa tech­ni­cian at­tend­ing to the scene. Hope­fully he is go­ing to fix the prob­lem,” Mr Phiri said. — @nqot­shili/ @andile_t­shuma

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