Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
PROPERTY worth about $800 000 was lost when a fire gutted Bulawayo’s Kumalo Hotel in the early hours of Sunday.
The cause of the fire at the hotel located in Kumalo suburb could not be established immediately.
Bulawayo Fire Brigade Senior Divisional officer, Mr Edward Mpofu, said investigations to establish the cause of the fire were still underway but an electrical fault or arson could not be ruled out.
He said the Fire Brigade received the first call at 0125hours and they arrived at the scene after five minutes but the entire roof had collapsed and cooking gas cylinders were exploding.
About 80 guests, mostly delegates to Zanu-PF’s conference and hotel workers were evacuated from the hotel premises and no one was injured.
“There were a number of gas cylinders, refrigerators, stoves, dishes that were destroyed. The building was extensively damaged by fire to the extent that fire spread pointers were destroyed,” said Mr Mpofu.
He said property worth over $800 000 was destroyed while that worth only $200 000 was saved.
Mr Mpofu said workers tried to contact the owner of the hotel at approximately 0109hrs but could not reach him. He said they delayed alerting the Fire Brigade as they did not know the contact numbers and only phoned at about 0125hrs.
“Two neighbours to the hotel stated that they saw the fire at something to one o’clock in the morning and tried to alert the hotel staff to no avail,” said Mr Mpofu.
He said people waste a lot of time communicating among themselves and with their bosses instead of calling the Fire Brigade.
Mr Mpofu advised people to always keep their numbers: (0292) 71717 or when one is calling from a landline on toll free numbers 993 or 994 to save property and prevent loss of lives in case of fire.
He said those in charge of public buildings, residential care homes and business premises must ensure that routine checks are done before closing for the day or when sleeping.
Last Wednesday, a double storey residential house and a three-roomed cottage were gutted by fire in Bulawayo’s Matsheumhlope suburb after a woman left a candle in her bedroom on while she was cooking outside. Property worth $2 000 was destroyed.