Traders at a motor spares shopping mall at the corner of Bank and Kaguvi streets in central Harare’s Kopje area, and in the heart of the area crowded with motor spares dealers, were left counting losses after goods worth thousands of dollars were destroyed in a fire yesterday morning.
The cause of the fire had not been established yesterday, with traders giving different explanations ranging from an electrical fault to suspected human error.
By press time, the Zimbabwe Republic Police were still on the ground carrying out investigations to ascertain the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage.
Generators, car bearings, filters, ball joints and vehicle lights are among the items that were destroyed.
When The Herald visited the mall, shop owners were still in shock.
One shop owner, Pias Zakaria, said the shop was his main source of income and he lost goods close to US$9 000.
“At our complex, we switch off electricity at half past five in the evening and then turn it on at 8 in the morning,” he said.
“There are guys who deal with car batteries, so I guess they left some cables connected to the batteries.
“The moment we switched on electricity, a battery exploded. We tried to extinguish the fire, but our efforts hit a snag.”
Another shop owner, Mr Shepherd Chifaka, said he had lost goods worth close to US$15 000 and he was devastated.
“I received a phone call when I was still at home,” he said.
“When I arrived at the scene, the fire brigade was already there, but everything had been burnt. They only managed to stop the fire from spreading to other shops. I did not even manage to remove anything.”
Another shop owner, who refused to be named, said she was hurt and she wanted three days or more before she could speak.
“I have a shop in this building,” she said.
“Unfortunately I cannot speak to you at this moment.”
Another one who also preferred anonymity said the fire started in the ceiling and she watched helplessly as her goods burned.
“I just heard a loud sound and saw smoke coming from the ceiling,” he said.
“Within a few seconds the whole complex was ablaze because the spares that we sell here contain oil which is highly flammable.”