A 71-YEAR-OLD woman was killed, while her son was seriously injured after fire razed down their six-roomed Chikanga house on Tuesday night.
Although the cause of the fire is yet to be established, the house owner, Mr Leonard Matere who sustained serious injuries, suspects that it emanated from an electrical fault in the lounge when power was restored after load shedding.
Mr Matere’s mother, Mrs Idah Matere died in the inferno, while his three minor children and four other people escaped unhurt.
Mr Matere was severely burnt on the hands, arms and face.
Narrating the horror night, Mr Matere said they were woken by neighbours who were banging and breaking windowpanes to allow smoke to escape from the house.
“We would have suffocated and burnt to death in our slumber because we did not even realise that a fire had started when power was restored.
“It was our tenants and neighbours who first saw the fire. They rushed out and broke our windowpanes to wake us up.
“When I tried to open the main door, my mother was beside me, helping me and I do not know when she fell down.
“When I failed to open the door, I rushed back to the kids’ bedroom. I thought that my mother had went back to them. Neighbours helped me to remove a burglar bar from the bedroom window. We helped the children escape through the window. I went back to look for my mother, but I could not find her.
“I rushed back to the door and opened it, people came in and we searched for her, but failed to locate her,” he said.
Mr Matere said the Fire Brigade attended the incident, but ran out of water.
“When the Fire Brigade finally came back with more water, they discovered my mother’s body next to the door. All the time we were looking for her, she was being consumed by the fire.
“It was so painful to see my mother’s remains. She came to stay with us in August so that she could look after my children while my wife was away at work in Guruve.
“She is on her way back home a we speak,” said the distraught Mr Matere.
A neighbour who was one of the first people to respond to the fire, Ms Nancy Mataranyika said they took turns to fetch water and tried to assist the Fire Brigade to douse the fire.
“Had it not been for the neighbours who woke them up, they would all have perished in the fire. It is so painful. The family has lost everything. Nothing was recovered and we are appealing to the general public to assist them,” she said.
The Manica Post understands that Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) personnel were at the house making assessments and trying to ascertain the cause of the fire.
“They told us that they will conduct investigations to assess whether it was an electrical fault or if the fire started from something else.
“However, we are convinced that the fire started from the wall sockets when power was restored. The television caught fire which spread to the wooden TV stand and ceiling. Within minutes, the whole house was on fire,” said Mr Matere.
Gogo Matere will be laid to rest in Honde Valley at a date to be advised.
Meanwhile, when Mr Matere was rushed to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital on the fateful day, he did not receive any treatment as he was advised that there was no medication or bandages readily available at the hospital.
“I have a really bad headache. My hands and face were severely burnt, but when I was rushed to Victoria Chitepo Provincial Hospital they told us that there was no medication, not even a single painkiller or bandage. When the doctor came, he prescribed some medication for me and we had to rush to pharmacies to get it.
“When the doctor attended me, the burns on my face were not yet visible so I am yet to go back to the hospital to receive treatment for the facial burns,” said Mr Matere who had burns all over his face when The Manica Post visited his house on Wednesday morning.
His hands were bandaged.
Councillor for Ward 16, Councillor Sekai Mukodza said it is disheartening to hear that Mr Matere failed to get immediate attention at the local referral hospital.
“Those who want to help the family can come through me or go directly to them. It is also important for residents to switch off all electrical appliances during load shedding times,” she said.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Nobert Muzondo said they were yet to receive the fire incident report.
Those willing to assist the Matere family can contact them on 0773570402.
— Manica Post