PROPERTY worth an estimated $202 000 was reduced to ashes on Tuesday when Empire House in Bulawayo was gutted down by fire.
BY SHARON SIBINDI
The building houses several flea markets.
Bulawayo chief fire officer, Richard Peterson confirmed the incident yesterday.
“I can confirm the incident. We got a call at 5.05pm yesterday and we are still investigating on what exactly caused the fire incident. What I can say is they are too many activities at the complex and we found bales of hay which has a door that is not locked and next to the area is a bar and people are not allowed to smoke in the bar,” he said.
“They smoke outside the bar and next to the hay storage. The door of the storage is not locked, it is open and no one guards it. So it could be that a smoker, threw the cigarette stump and that was blown to the hay. We are still investigating and the fire started from the bottom.”
Peterson said there were some illegal operations in the building.
“ … some of the operations there are illegal. We have engaged the owner of the building,” he said.
“In terms of safety, we are also not happy with the storage of hay in the city centre and certain requirements are needed to do the business. “