Peter Matambanadzo Senior Reporter
A Bindura farmer yesterday lost more than 47 tonnes of cured tobacco worth about US$200 000 in a fire that gutted his warehouse at Teragwaai Farm.
No one was injured in the incident that occurred around 0130hrs at the farm in Matepatepa about 35km from Bindura town.
Businessman and farm owner Mr Kudakwashe Kanengoni said the fire was suspected to have been caused by an electrical fault in the warehouse where the tobacco was stored ready for the market.
He did not rule out foul play.
“We suspect that the fire could have been caused by an electrical fault or maybe someone deliberately started the fire that destroyed the bales, which were in the stocking warehouse and ready to be delivered to the auction floors,” Mr Kanengoni said.
He said he lost 3 000 kgs of tobacco last month in yet another mysterious fire that started in one of the barns.
Mr Kanengoni said the tobacco was not insured and he has since made a report to police and Zesa Holdings to investigate the cause of the fire.
When The Herald visited the farm yesterday afternoon, debris was scattered at the scene and the roof of the warehouse had collapsed.
All the 47 tonnes of tobacco had been razed to ashes.
A security guard at the farm Fanuel Jaki said he saw the fire around midnight and by the time he called out for help it had spread.
“We heard an explosion of asbestos and this is when we rushed and tried to put out the fire, but it had already engulfed most of the warehouse.
“We could not do anything but helplessly watch the bales being razed to ashes,” Jaki said.
In April last year tobacco farmers were urged to insure their crop to guard against hazards, which might affect their golden leaf in the event of mishaps.
The call was made following incidents during the Easter holidays in which tobacco awaiting delivery at the auction floors was drenched by rains while farmers waited for the re-opening of the floors.
Tobacco Sales Floor managing director Mr James Mutambanesango urged farmers to take ‘field to floor insurance cover' to cater for their crop outside the auction.