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Paramount blazes 10 days on

Local News
It is suspected that the fire was due to an electric fault.

A clothing producer and supplier has spent the past seven days battling a blaze that broke out at its factory amid reports that management has had to buy water to douse the inferno.

The fire broke out on Monday last week.

It is suspected that the fire was due to an electric fault.

Paramount group finance director Jeremy Youmans told NewsDay that there was combustible material inside the building and fewer resources to extinguish the deadly inferno.

“The fire is fully contained but it is not out because there is still combustible material in the building. It was fully contained by the Harare City Fire Brigade but it is not extinguished yet.

“So, there is still a risk of ignition if we do not get that heat dissipated and some of the combustible material out of the way.

“It could have never got to this stage but the reason that it became such a disaster rather than a cause was mainly due to lack of resources that the City of Harare fire brigade had and water being the fundamental one.”

He said while the fire brigade was still communicating with them, the biggest single problem was water.

Youmans said two of three buildings affected by the inferno were saved.

“There were three buildings that were all joined together, so two of those buildings were saved. There is going to be some damage to them of some sort and water damage but they were substantially saved.

“What is being lost is the warehouse building which is a three-storey building. Engineers will have to decide if any of that is saveable but at this stage it is not looking very good. Parts of the three-story building have collapsed entirely.

“On the value of damage, that would be down to the assessment that would need to be done by the professionals. That will be a long process that we will be going through.”

He said they were going to conduct an investigation when the building is declared safe to work in.

“At the moment, it is still hot and the experts will be employed by the relevant authorities to go and do their investigation. At the moment we do not know what caused the fire, there is no obvious cause,” Youmans said.

Paramount celebrated their 75th anniversary before the inferno.

“We have been receiving fantastic support from the community and bulk water suppliers making bowsers available. We have had to have a significant amount of water, we have not added it up, but it is in the millions of litres of water.

“We are overwhelmed and humbled to be honest, it is fantastic. Our aim is to get up and run as soon as we can and we need to be working with the insurers on that.

“We are hoping that we get fairly good support from them because to operate we need raw materials and we have lost all our raw materials.”

He said the company hopes to be fully operational by mid-January next year.

“Ironically, we celebrated our 75th anniversary only two weeks ago and it was a very joyful occasion when we thought we would be ending the year in a very happy match.

“The reality is in the 75 years we have experienced a lot of challenges and some things we might have called disaster but not as big as this.

“However, we have a very good team here, highly motivated and we are determined to get up again by the middle of January,” Youmans said.

Harare City Council chief fire officer Lovemore Mafukidze yesterday said the fire was extinguished adding that fire fighters were only ventilating the building as there was still heat inside.

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