Veld fire guts 18 vehicles

Dozens of vehicles were reduced  to shells after a veld fire destroyed Kashitiga Garage in Harare yesterday. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Dozens of vehicles were reduced to shells after a veld fire destroyed Kashitiga Garage in Harare yesterday. — (Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Fungai Lupande and Magaret Matibiri
Eighteen vehicles worth thousands of dollars were yesterday burnt to shells by veld fire at a garage along Seke Road amid reports that Harare Fire Brigade officials who attended the scene watched helplessly allegedly because their fire tender did not have water.

The owner of the garage located at Ledco Missions Complex, Mr Moses Kashitigu, said he was yet to quantify the loss after most of his clients’ cars were destroyed.

The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) yesterday urged residents to make fireguards.

Mr Kashitigu said the fire brigade arrived when the first car was burning, but could not put out the blaze because they did not 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 on the banks of Mukuvisi River.”

He said they had fire guards, but something that looked like a tire exploded from the riverbank and landed on one of the vehicles, sparking the inferno.

“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 with water while fire brigade officials watched.

“I suspect the fire was started by urban farmers who do their gardening on the 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 negative perspective towards the institution.

“People have a negative perspective 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 don’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 meters wide and if people share a boundary the nine meters should be on both sides. The fireguard should be around the property,’’ said Mr Kangata.

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  • Gamatox Mutasa

    Uyo Chideme haapenge here uyo.Ungati Fire brigade does not attend fire without water when they did exactly that? In Zimbabwe we have a culture of “i dont care ” right from gvt ,council and the ordinary man on the street.If the city was working correctly then there should have been fire hydrants at each premise.And the hydrants should have water.Now this unfortunate guy will have to bear the cost of something not of his own making.

    • DK

      This Chideme guy must just shut up. He is very ignorant of what PR is. He is combative in approach. I wonder if he holds the right qualifications for that job.

  • Tinovaziva

    This is all very sad. Our government prioritises policies that will keep them in power by hook and crook at the expense of basic things like keeping a functioning fire brigade. How can the fire brigade issue a tender to someone who cannot have water? How many fires break out in Harare a month? Why didn’t they have water? Couldn’t they get water from Mukuvisi river which is less than a 1 km from the scene?

    I suspect this is a Zanu big wig who was given a tender due to their connections not because he/she could provide the required service. This is all very sad.

    • N. Sithole

      A sad incident indeed. However, I fail to understand your point about the fire brigade issuing a tender to ” someone who cannot have water”. What tender was issued and for what purpose?

    • Truth about tenders

      A water tender is a tank that stores water. Don’t confuse it with a business tender.

    • walter

      why not blame the city fathers also, are they not the owners of the fire engines.

  • Just a Zimbo

    Fire engines without water, hydrants vandalized , people come to help and then loot tools and spares , urban farmers with exploding tyres! What kind of society are we living in? We need to look at ourselves carefully, we can not blame government or anybody else for that matter for this kind of behavior which seems to have become the norm.

  • SamaitaT

    …what the hell had the fire brigade gone to do without water!? sound insane and stupid!

  • inini

    let us not just criticize Fire brigade, after assessing the fire, the team will look for local water supply because yavanouya nayo pamwe pacho haikwani, that is why they first look for water hydrant before putting out the fire. manje mamwe ma water hydrant unoona pakaiswa musika ipapo making it difficult to locate. some vandalized. even mota yakafa ukaenda ku depot kwavo unowana inevhura. even irikubva kundodzima moto unowana inemvura, they use the local hydrant to refill matrucks avo. i think the reporter must interview the fire team also than just asking the residents. also makombi anenge akavhara migwagwa zvinoita kuti fire brigade vehicle dzinonoke kusvika panzvimbo. this is one of reason mishikashika ichifanirwa kubva. for the smooth flow of emergency vehicles

    • Natalie Chidewa

      spot on u understand fire brigade well than those morons busy critizing without knowledge after all they were last paid in January .how can a normal person sends his or her car kumikoto isina insurance as long u dont listen to fire prevention team vandalizing fire hydrants ndezvenyu… ndini ndadaro

      • newzim.com

        You’re very right. Why is the owner blaming Fire Brigade instead of himself. He runs a business without insurance let alone paying taxes. Fire brigade should just have come in as a back up if he had operated professionally because a workshop must have big fire extinguishers or hydrants. If he says the 1st car was the only one on fire when they arrived then it means he made no effort to extinguish the fire since at least 20 fire extinguishers were there already (a fire extinguisher per car). To the vehicle owners I say ” CHEAP IS VERY EXPENSIVE” unfortunately you learnt the hard way no matter how many times adverts are flighted

  • Mungandidii

    I am actually surprised that Chideme says the fire brigade always carry water. This is not always true because water is heavy and if the truck carries the bulky water, it will be slow moving. From whatever station they will be coming from, they are supposed to rush and get water, if it is required, from the nearest water point to the fire. The decision to get water can also be done after assessing the situation because in some instances, water can fuel the fire. The major problem will arise when the water points do not have water or have been vandalised.

  • Seadog

    You should have called the riot cannons as these always have water.

  • Mupamombe

    Was this garage in the jungle? Or ndere pasi pemuti? I see a Passat and an AUDI there…how can you buy a Germany car to have it fixed under a tree? Musatenge mota kana musina mari mhani.

    • makwavarara

      I agree with you. ko iye muridzi wegarage anoregeri masora akawoma mudhuze megarage rake this time of the season yet mugarage munobuda flamable substances. he should have constructed a fire gurad himself as a risk management technique not to blame council for nothing or to have fire extinguishing equipment installed at the garage eg his own water tank or a well powered by a pump.

  • Dr Muda (DPhil) (PhD)

    Which by the way cannot appoint its own Town Clerk…

  • Cde

    Chideme is very ignorant

    • Difficult Munetsi

      No not ignorant. **

  • Weston Mugocha

    Chideme will confirm that this is indeed true when his property catches fire one day. Not wishing him bad of cause.

  • Gweru

    Saka dai yanga iine mvura yakadii kudzima

  • Fafuta

    Harare City Council inozviita. Several years ago my neighbour almost lost her house because a fire tender came without any water although its yard borders Mukuvisi in Waterfalls. The brigade actually commandeered my swimming pool water. I believe they are supposed to connect to the water outlets dotted on the streets but oftener than not, there is not enough pressure to really use or even during their frequent water shut offs to repair Morton Jaffrays!!!!!!
    Someone remember how many years ago, the inept fire fighters lost a brand new fire tender in an inferno at the ZESA complex in the Ardbennie Industrial Area????
    Hunhu hwavo.