Traders in a shopping mall in Harare suffered significant losses when a fire broke out, destroying goods worth thousands of dollars. The exact cause of the fire is still unknown, but the owner of the complex suspects a gas leak from a canteen on the top floor as the initial source.
The police and fire brigade are investigating the incident to determine the cause and assess the extent of the damage. The fire destroyed various items including clothing, cosmetics, food, gadgets, money, and blankets.
The mall is located at the corner of Joseph Wilfred Msika Road and Fidel Castro (formerly Cameron Street and Charter Road respectively) in Harare.
Councillor for Ward 16 City of Harare, Mr Denford Ngadziore suggested that a gas explosion on the top floor may have triggered the fire. The Herald quotes him as saying:
"We have traders who are using gas in their canteens so the gas exploded. The fire brigade team did a splendid job to prevent the fire from spreading to surrounding buildings. I am advising people to stop the use of gas especially in business areas, people should get licences to use gas."
According to Laiza Sangwenya, a trader at the shopping mall, the fire started at the top of the building, possibly due to someone welding. Smoke was seen coming out, and the fire brigade arrived 10 minutes later. However, it took them 40 minutes to extinguish the flames because they had a shortage of water.
Another shop owner, Rejoice Mpofu, expressed distress as the shop was her sole means of income. She is unsure about what to do next and where to begin after the fire. Another shop owner who declined to be named said he had taken a loan to start the business. He said:
"I recently took a loan from my friend and had just started my small business of buying and selling cellphones and television sets. I definitely have to repay that loan, but now I do not know how I am going to do that since all my goods have been destroyed in the fire. I am now stuck."
Ms. Alice Nzirawo, a shop owner, expressed her shock and sadness. She sells children’s shoes and had recently stocked her shop with school uniforms for the upcoming back-to-school season. Unfortunately, all of her merchandise was destroyed in the fire, which she finds devastating.
Mr. Bernard Runoda also suffered significant losses, estimating the value of his goods at around US$15,000. When he arrived at the scene, the fire brigade was already present, but everything had been burnt. He couldn’t salvage any of his belongings.