Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
FIRE destroyed property worth more than $2 million in Bulawayo between January and June this year.
The value of property lost is a sharp increase from $948 000 damaged by infernos during the same period last year.
A total of 114 fires were recorded this year against last year’s 126 cases with four people injured in 2017, compared to 19 who sustained injuries last year.
This year no one died due to fire while six people died last year.
Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer Mr Richard Peterson said despite a decrease in fire incidents they recorded an increase in property losses.
“The brigade attended to 114 fires between January and June 2017 compared to the 126 cases attended to the same period last year meaning we had a 9.5 percent decrease in fire incidents,” said Mr Peterson.
“An estimate of $2 415 200 property was destroyed by fire in the first half of the year this year, compared to $948 930 worth of property which was damaged by fire in the same period of 2016.”
He said discarded lit materials, arson and electrical faults are the three major causes of fire in the city.
He urged residents to exercise caution as the country was entering the veld fire season.
“Grass or veld fire incidents are more prevalent in the low-density suburbs that are neighbouring tracks of undeveloped land. Causes of grass or veldfires include bonfires left unattended mostly by homeless people, discarded cigarettes by smokers, campfires left unattended by campers, children unaccompanied playing with matches and lighting fires,” he said.
Mr Peterson warned residents against attempts to extinguish veld fires saying they can injure them.
“When veld fires start, they can cause significant damage to property, environment, threaten human life, wildlife and livelihoods,” he said
“The Bulawayo community needs to understand that veld fires are difficult to extinguish and stretch Fire Brigade resources to the limit. Members of the public are also advised that if they observe grass fire (s), they should not attempt to extinguish them as it is not safe to do so. Grass fires can travel very quickly and change direction without warning,” said Mr Peterson.
He attributed the decrease in fire incidents to the Fire Brigade campaign where the emergency department visited residents, churches and schools to teach about the dangers of uncontrolled infernos.