AN AMBULANCE and a kombi carrying two containers with 2 000 litres of petrol were yesterday morning gutted by fire at AS Petroleum Cecil Motors at the corner of Five Street and 3rd Avenue in Bulawayo.
Bulawayo chief fire officer Richard Peterson, who attended the scene, said the cause of the fire had not been established, but that it broke out during a transfer of the petrol from the containers carried by the kombi into an underground tank.
“The actual cause of the fire has not been established and I am still compiling information in a bid to establish the possible cause of the fire, but the fire broke out when petrol was being poured from one of the containers in the kombi into an underground tank,” he said.
“It was a terrible fire and all we had to do was control it and make sure the fuel did not flow and that the fire did not spread to the entire garage.”
Peterson said investigations were made difficult by the fact that the three men who were pouring the fuel into the underground tank fled the scene when the fire broke out.
“We are trying by all means to establish the cause of the fire, but the investigations are being made difficult by the three men who were doing the job as they fled the scene when the fire broke out,” he said.
Peterson said unregistered and unapproved pumps were used to transfer the fuel and there was no supervision from professionals when the petrol was being poured into the underground tank.
He said it is alarming that there were individuals who illegally supply fuel from their homes putting the lives of the public in danger.
The fire brigade and police are working together to try and locate the fuel supplier as it is illegal.
Peterson said the fire brigade had used more than 200 litres of foam concentrate to put out the fire and that had had left them in serious trouble as that type of special liquid was imported. An eyewitness said one of the men who fled the scene was injured when the fire broke out.
“When the kombi caught fire we saw the men running away and one of them was injured and struggling to run,” the eyewitness said.
The garage tenant Admire Gomera said he was only called when the vehicles were ablaze.
Gomera said it was not the first time for the men to transfer petrol from other containers into the underground tanks. Crowds gathered close to the garage and anti-riot police were called in to control the curious onlookers.
It took the fire fighters about two hours to contain the raging fire and more than five fire engines were constantly seen bringing the special foam liquid concentrate.
– Pictures By KB Mpofu