By Jill Mangachena
A tuckshop located between Mhungu and Shato streets in Zengeza 1 burned down last Saturday night after an LP gas vendor left his 50kg tank for overnight storage while it was leaking.
The shop keeper, Samuel Mumbure, suffered serious burns all over his face in a fruitless effort to douse the flames and save his shop and stock. He was taken to Chitungwiza hospital for treatment.
According to an eye-witness, Tatenda Taderera, the fire was started by LP gas leaking from one of the tanks that was stored at night in the shop.
“The shopkeeper didn’t notice that one of the tanks was slowly leaking and the gas accumulated before being ignited by fire from a candle that the shopkeeper was using for lighting” Taderera explained.
Neighbours, the shopkeeper and onlookers gave differing accounts of what caused the fire.
Mumbure had just closed his shop for the night when he decided to check if the gas tanks stored overnight in his shop were properly closed.
“The shopkeeper thought he was closing the tank, which he was checking, when in actual fact he was opening it. The tank was directly facing a lighted candle so when it was opened the leaking gas caught fire,” Taderera alleged.
On the other hand Mumbure claimed that the owner of the gas tank left it partially closed and the leaking gas slowly accumulated in his shop before igniting when it came into contact with flames from a candle he was using.
Neighbours and onlookers alleged that the shopkeeper was clandestinely selling and filling a gas tank after hours without the gas vendors permission when the incident happened.
When Mumbure saw that his shop had caught fire he panicked and went to a nearby house where he started fetching water to throw at the flames, but the fire only gained momentum.
“His frantic efforts were like throwing oil at flames, moreover most of the commodities being sold in the shop fuelled the fire,” an onlooker, Lucia Matingwina said. “There was nothing that could be done to save the shop and the things in it.”
“They was no water coming out of the taps and the shop-keepers efforts of to stop the fire with inadequate water were hopeless. I didn’t see anyone of the people around try to help. It was a really sad sight, and when the fire brigade finally arrived at the scene it was already too late and the fire had died down by itself.” She further explained.
A resident who lives close to the shop, Ruvimbo Murwira, said: “If only we had water coming out of our taps in Chitungwiza I’m sure we could have helped by either connecting our own hosepipes or even using buckets. But as it is the flames were so big and we didn’t have enough water to pour at the flames.”