HomeNewsAccidentsFire guts United Refineries warehouse

Fire guts United Refineries warehouse

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FIRE broke out in a warehouse at United Refineries Limited in Bulawayo yesterday burning stockfeed and damaging a section of the roof, with sparks from welding suspected to be the cause of the inferno.

PATIENCE RATAMBWA/
MAMELO NKOMO

The chief executive officer (CEO) of United Refineries Limited Busisa Moyo told Southern Eye that an outside contractor was welding inside the warehouse and sparks from that job are suspected to have ignited the stockfeed.

“An outside contractor was working on our pellet mill and doing a welding job on the mill earmarked for installation when a stray spark fell on some stockfeed and it caught fire,” he explained.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries.”

The cost of the damaged property was not immediately clear and Moyo said there were areas where the fire had not been completely extinguished.

He was, however, relieved that no one had been injured. The fire triggered panic as workers feared they could lose their jobs following the blaze.

“We are afraid that we might lose our jobs. United Refineries Limited is one of the very few companies in Bulawayo that is still open. Where are we going to find jobs if the company closes?” an employee said from a distance after he spotted the Southern Eye news crew.

Moyo, however, explained that though they lost some hours of production as a precautionary measure, their main cooking oil and soap processing plants remained functional.

“Workers will continue as normal as our main cooking oil and soap processing plants are functional,” he said.

“However, the outside contractor and his team may be affected as they did not exercise due care and diligence in ensuring a sufficiently secure ‘hot works’ environment, unless we are assured of due caution on his part.”

A senior divisional officer at the Fire Brigade, who identified himself as E Mpofu, said maximum precaution must be taken in areas like those.

“Places like the United Refineries should not at any time undertake welding activities close to fire compatible areas,” he said.

“Where there is danger of fire, they should call Fire Brigade before undertaking the activity to assist prevent fire.”

United Refineries Limited is the second-largest cooking oil refinery in Zimbabwe, employing more than 300 people.

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