A sombre atmosphere engulfed Amaveni suburb, Kwekwe, when fire broke out at St Francis Children’s Home on Monday night, killing one orphan and leaving another seriously injured.
Officials suspect the fire, which burnt down the home’s six-roomed dormitory, was caused by an electrical fault. The Roman Catholic-run institution has an enrolment of 75 boys and the affected building housed 15 orphans, who were all asleep when the fire broke out.
The home’s administrator, Sister Mary Chironga, said Aaron Kunaka’s charred body was retrieved from underneath a bunk bed. He was seven years old.
“When they found him from under the debris of the bed, his lower body had been reduced to ashes, while Takudzwa Zivanashe (17), who walks with the aid of a walking stick, is currently admitted at the Kwekwe General Hospital after sustaining serious burns,” said Chironga from her bedside after spraining her leg as she attempted to put out the fire.
Chironga said the property went up in smoke soon after Zesa restored power supplies to the suburb following a day’s blackout.
Maio Mesquita (22), who survived the blaze, said he only woke up after the roof of the building had caved in, blocking the exit and trapping Kunaka.
“We fought to get everyone out of the room through the windows, but unfortunately, we could not locate Kunaka who could have been under the bed at the time,” he said.
Councillor Shirley Mutirwara, who lives a stone’s throw from the orphanage, applauded the community for reacting swiftly to fight the fire.
She, however, blamed Zesa for causing the mishap by not sticking to its load-shedding schedule.
“They are to blame for this loss because they do not stick to their timetable,” said Mutirwara. The inferno came hardly three days after a veld fire razed down Amaveni Tavern in the same suburb, destroying property worth thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, Kunaka is set to be buried tomorrow.