BULAWAYO has recorded an 18% increase in property fires compared to the same period last year, all blamed on candles and paraffin stoves owing to rolling power outages.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
A total of 20 property fire outbreaks were recorded in September, with an estimated total loss of $1 185 750.
This is according to a report compiled by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) chief fire officer, Richard Peterson contained in the latest BCC minutes of the health, housing and education committee report.
Household property worth $3 760 000 is at risk, the report added.
A total of 68 fire outbreaks were recorded in September, with 29% of them being property fires.
“Twenty-nine percent of the total fires recorded involved property fires. The brigade recorded an 18% increase in property fires this month as compared to the same period in the previous year.
“The rise in the property fires was attributed to the increased use of matches, candles and paraffin stoves during the prolonged power outages,” Peterson said.
Power utility Zesa Holdings recently introduced a punishing load-shedding schedule where consumers are disconnected for up to 18 hours a day — sometimes even longer — because of limited generation at its plants and subdued imports.
There were no fire related deaths, or injuries, the report said.
The council’s firefighting department is carrying out awareness campaigns, but residents belittle the fire-brigades by making false alarms, the report read.
“There was an increase of 100% on false alarms with six calls as compared to three for the same period in 2014,” Peterson said.
The report showed that the BCC fire brigade has, since January, attended to 85 fire calls.
The BCC early this year received 11 fire engines and equipment from Operation Florian, a United Kingdom fire and humanitarian organisation.