Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
PROPERTY worth more than $1 million was destroyed yesterday when a hostel at Hillside Teachers’ College in Bulawayo was gutted by fire leaving almost 100 male students stranded.
The incident occurred shortly after 10AM.
Students claimed that they noticed the fire soon after power was restored at 10AM following load shedding.
No one was injured during the inferno.
When The Chronicle arrived at the scene at about 11AM, fire fighters were on the ground extinguishing the inferno.
This newspaper observed that the roofing on the second floor of Gwabalanda Male Hostel had collapsed due to the fire.
In an interview, Hillside Teachers’ College principal Mrs Linda Sibindi said the Fire Brigade was investigating the cause of the inferno.
“The fire started at around 10AM. We were alerted by students and the Fire Brigade was called and they promptly responded. Students managed to get a few of their belongings out. The top floor was not fully occupied so it was easy for them to salvage some of their property but it was extensively damaged, it’s beyond occupation for now and the college is now moving the students to other floors. We didn’t have any casualties since the hostel was not occupied as students were attending lessons,” said Mrs Sibindi.
She said Government was in the process of quantifying the value of the damaged property.
“The Public Works Department and ourselves will go through an assessment but definitely it runs into a million dollars and above. Obviously we would be looking for financial support,” said Mrs Sibindi.
She said they hoped that the hostel would be renovated so that it could be used by students next year.
Mrs Sibindi said the college would ensure that students are not distressed as they prepare for their final examinations which start on October 7.
Hillside Teachers’ College Students Representative Council president Mr Hurry Mudenda said 100 students could have been affected by the inferno.
“Some of them lost their computers, laptops and reading materials. We are preparing for our examinations and this could seriously affect them. But as for accommodation I doubt it will be difficult to relocate them to other hostels as they are not fully occupied,” said Mr Mudenda.
Acting Bulawayo Fire Brigade Senior Divisional Officer Mr Josephat Chiriya said investigations to determine what caused the fire were in progress. — @nqotshili.