Goods worth millions of dollars were lost in a fire that gutted a Harare shopping mall early yesterday morning.
The shopping mall, at the corner of Robert Mugabe Way and Chinhoyi Street in the Central Business District, went up in flames and the Fire Brigade was blasted for coming without enough water to put out the fire.
One of the tenants at the mall, Mai Miriam who lost a sewing machine worth US$490, said the Fire Brigade could have saved the other side of the building but preferred to extinguish the Chinhoyi Street side because it is adjacent to a Service Station.
“Fire Brigade yauya kuma 1am isina mvura kwavakudzokera and after an hour ndopavazouya nemvura. “Tiri kurwadziwa. Tasvika kuma 1am zvinhu zvedu zvisati zvatsva, but ivo vakudira mvura kuti moto usaende ku service station,” she said.
H-Metro caught up with Harare Fire Brigade Divisional Officer Clever Mafoti, who said they extinguished the fire while protecting the adjacent service station. “When we are putting out a fire, we look around and prioritize the use of the building like property and life. “We had to protect adjacent buildings because there is a service station which would have seen fire spreading in the eventuality that the fire reached the place.
“The cause of the fire was not known since the whole building was totally gutted,” he said. Mafoti took time to dispel speculation that the fire truck arrived at the scene without water to extinguish the inferno. “We received a call at 00:42 and we arrived at the scene at 00:47.
“Our guys then did not see any fire in the building until they opened one of the doors that is when the whole building caught the fire. “The fire was being compressed since there was no oxygen in the building then it was fuelled upon the opening of the door and the whole building was engulfed in flames.
“It is difficult to ascertain the cause with the magnitude of the fire in the building. ‘We are the first people to have adequate water in the City and we have over 10 000 liters of water in our reservoirs. Each of our trucks carries a maximum of 1 500 liters of water.
“We first had to assess the situation when we arrived at the building then we had to get our back up vehicle which has 8 000 litres after we realized the fire was too strong.
“We could not immediately get water from nearby fire points since streets kids tamper with our pieces of equipment, but we, however, managed to get one at corner Leopold Takawira Street and Robert Mugabe Way. “Nothing was recovered and no one was injured,” said Mafoti.
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