Tuesday, 22 June 2021


Timely response by the Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Services department averted a potential explosion after an inferno engulfed a Monarch Plastics recycling plant which also houses a 35 000 litre diesel container on Sunday night.

The container had 10 000 litres of diesel and if it was not for the swift action of the fire fighters, an explosion covering close to a 100 metre radius could have occurred.

The fire that broke out at the factory located at Thorngrove Industrial site at about 11PM, was reportedly caused by a machine that was left on following a power outage the previous day.

This is the third major fire to be recorded in the city within a month after another gutted Southampton Building in the city centre on Friday.

Last month, a fire razed the doctors’ quarters at Mpilo Central Hospital destroying property worth US$500 000.

Chronicle yesterday could not ascertain the value of damaged property at Monarch, although officials said the amount is substantial.

When a Chronicle news crew visited the factory at about 10AM, fire fighters and the company’s management were still conducting investigations into the cause of the fire.

Monarch Steel managing director Mr Fritzpatrick Mawovera said it was too early to comment about the incident. He expressed gratitude to the fire fighters for preventing an extensive disaster.

Bulawayo acting chief fire officer Mr Linos Phiri said negligence by the company’s employees could have caused the fire.

“It seems there was a power outage on Saturday when the employees were on a shift. They forgot to switch off power as they knocked off and when power was restored the following day, the machine started operating on its own. On Sunday night, a security guard who was on patrol discovered that there was smoke coming from inside the factory. It took him time to report to another security officer, who instead of alerting the fire brigade walked back to assess if what he was being told is true. When they returned to the plant, it was already engulfed in flames,” said Mr Phiri.

He said it was then that they decided to alert the fire brigade. Mr Phiri urged members of the public not to leave electrical gadgets on, especially when there is load shedding.

“Most fires occur when people leave their electrical gadgets on. For instance, these days we are experiencing load shedding, hence it is important that members of the public do not leave gadgets such as heaters on. When gadgets are left unattended, there is likelihood of these appliances causing fire, especially this winter,” said Mr Phiri. Chronicle


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