By Esinathy Sibanda
Property worth thousands of dollars was reduced to ashes after a doctor’s residence was gutted by fire at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo.
It is suspected that the fire was caused by a heater which was left on.
The incident occurred between 12AM and 1AM yesterday.
No one was injured in the inferno and the other cottages housing doctors in the vicinity were not affected by the fire.
The Bulawayo Fire Brigade suspects that the fire started in the lounge and spread to other rooms, but they managed to control it.
Acting Bulawayo chief fire Officer, Mr Edward Mpofu said that when they arrived at the scene, the sitting room had already been destroyed, with the fire spreading to other rooms.
“I confirm receiving a call at around midnight and rushed to the scene. When the firefighters arrived at the scene, they found the entire house engulfed by smoke. The roof had already collapsed and household contents were still burning. The lounge was already burnt down and the fire was starting to spread to other rooms,” he said.
“Only the ceilings in the other rooms were torched down. Most of the damage was caused by the smoke. We are yet to establish the cause of the fire but we suspect a heater left on. Investigations are underway.”
Mr Mpofu warned the public against leaving gadgets such as heaters and stoves on when people retire to bed.
“It is fortunate that no lives were lost in this incident hence we continue to urge people to cross-check both gas and electrical appliances before they retire to bed. People should never be tempted to sleep with heaters on as this is very risky. Sadly, this doctor has lost almost everything to the fire but we are grateful that no life was lost,” he said.
When The Chronicle arrived at the scene in the morning, the damage was evident as the walls were covered in soot while the ceiling had been completely destroyed. Heaps of burnt property was inside and outside the house.
In an interview, Mpilo Hospital Clinical Director Officer Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said almost US$20 000 worth of property was lost in the fire. He said the doctor was asleep in his bedroom when he was awakened by smoke.
“He was lucky to escape with his life because the fire was almost burning down the whole house when he woke up. We thank God he is alive but he is traumatised because he lost his valuables, including important documents,” he said.
Last year in an almost similar situation, an inferno engulfed the doctors’ quarters at Mpilo and property valued nearly $300 000 was destroyed.
The fire started in a common room where the doctors do their cooking where someone could have left the stove on and spread to the entire building through the ceiling. The Chronicle