Family perishes in inferno

THREE members of a Gweru family were burnt to death when their house went up in flames, following a suspected electrical fault yesterday.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

Provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Joel Goko confirmed the accident which happened at around 3.30am in Lundi Park and said they were still investigating the cause of the fire.

Neighbours said the fire killed the couple and its year-old child.

The couple’s 14-year-old son survived the inferno by jumping out through the window before the fire spread to the lounge where he was sleeping.

Some witnesses who declined to be named said they heard the couple banging the doors and shouting for help from their double-storey building.

“We could hear the couple banging doors upstairs and shouting for help,” a neighbour said.

“As we gathered, we shouted for the woman to throw the baby through the window, but it seems the couple was finding it difficult to pass through the raging flames.”

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Another neighbour said the most painful thing was that they were talking to the couple until they just went quiet after about an hour. Ironically, fire fighters arrived at the scene two hours later, although the fire station is less than two kilometres away.

“We were talking to them, while they were engulfed in the fire and the husband kept on calling for help saying they were burning until they both just went quiet,” she said.

According to the neighbours, when the fire brigade finally put out the fire, the husband was found dead sitting on a chair.

Though the flat was not razed to the ground, all the upstairs and downstairs rooms were extensively damaged with most household goods reduced to ashes. The fire also slightly damaged the neighbour’s flat by leaving cracks on the wall.

She, however, blamed the municipal fire brigade of being poorly equipped to save lives.

“The first fire tender to arrive at the scene had no water and they joined the neighbourhood in watching people burn to death,” the visibly angry neighbour said.

“At least there should be life savers at the municipal fire brigade, just as we used to know during the (colonial) regime and besides the fire team seemed clueless on the hydrants in the neighbourhood.”

Neighbours say what worsened the sombre atmosphere was that a few meters from the fire incident is where the late Barbra Sibanda was stabbed to death a few weeks ago by her 19-year son, Kudakwashe.

After committing the heinous crime, the teenager drove off in her mother’s car and went on a drinking spree after locking her inside the house. He is currently in remand prison awaiting trial for murder, knocking down a pedestrian in Norton and driving off a Gweru fuel station without paying.

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