Fire guts Shops in Unit M

The remains of the shops gutted by fire at Unit M shopping centre.

By Admire Mutize Chitownews citizen reporter.

An unexplained fire engulfed buildings at Chirenje shops in Unit M on Sunday morning reducing stock worth thousands of dollars into ashes. The fire whose cause remain unknown caused extensive damage to the building leaving spooked residents to speculate on its origins.

The rumour-mill in Chitungwiza went into overdrive on social media as residents speculated on what may have caused the disaster. The intense interest in the accident was started by an elderly eye-witness who claimed that a lightning strike (mheni) was behind the misfortune.

The visibly drunk old man told the gathered onlookers that early morning showers forced him to seek shelter on the building’s veranda as he made his way home and as the rains tapered off- he heard “a loud whooshing sound and saw a flash of the intense blue-light descend from the sky”.

The old man’s account of events was disputed by a shop owner who claimed that an electrical fault was behind the fire. The businessman arrived after the fire had been extinguished and his explanation was waived off by suspicious residents who preferred the old man version of events.

According to eyewitnesses, the fire started around 0700 hours on Sunday morning and exploded into a raging inferno within minutes. Concerned members of the public led by youths from the local community scrambled and tried to extinguish the fire using buckets of water before calling the fire-brigade who arrived after two hours when the most of the damage had already been done.

Residents interviewed by Chitownews at the scene were irked by the delayed response from the Fire brigade and expressed their frustration to the Fireman when they eventually arrived. Their arrival in a bright red fire engine was greeted with jeers and whistles and their belated efforts to extinguish the fire was mocked by children and women in the clearly agitated crowd.

John Mungate- a youth from Unit M commenting on the incident in a Whatsapp group said “the incident exposed the unavailability of emergency and rescue services in Chitungwiza”.