At least 40 children lost all of their belongings in an inferno that tore through a two-storey hostel at Harare Children’s Home in Eastlea yesterday.
The fire, which broke out at around mid-day, destroyed the entire first floor of one the oldest children’s hostels in Zimbabwe, leaving some children with only the clothes they were wearing.
The cause of the fire could not be immediately ascertained and investigations are still underway.
The incident comes barely two weeks after the children received three new blankets each from well wishers and at least 120 new blankets were burned.
When The Herald visited the scene, the fire brigade had already managed to put out the fire but not before it caused a lot of damage.
Harare Children’s Home director Mrs Maria Sithole said they were startled to see flames erupting from one of the apartments.
“One of the general workers noticed smoke when she went upstairs, but she was unable to determine its exact source,” she said.
When they realised that one of the rooms had caught fire, according to Mrs Sithole, it was already too late because the fire had consumed the entire room and spreading quickly.
“Everything in this house for 40 children is gone from clothes, books, uniforms nothing was recovered.
“The fire brigade came timely but they didn’t have enough equipment, the fire was very intense but they quickly exhausted their water because it fire was very intense and they had to go back again to fetch more water,” she said.
The worst aspect, according to her, was that the kids had recently received a new set of bedding, and everything had been destroyed.
“The irony of the things is that recently we got a donation of blankets from a well-wisher, each child received three blankets but all is gone. We are now appealing to the nation to assist us with anything, either in kind or cash but we are mainly worried about school uniforms because soon schools will be opening. “
The fire brigade team that spoke to The Herald said when they arrived at the scene, the fire had already devoured a lot of property.
“I think they tried to put out fire before the alerted us because when we arrived it had already destroyed almost half of the entire first floor,” a fire brigade staffer who wished to remain anonymous said.
He added that their vehicles only have a capacity to carry 2 000 to 3 000 litres of water, making it extremely difficult for them to put out a large fire.
“We expect a huge institution like this to have a water reserve so that, in the event that an emergency like this occurs, we may fill up our tanks.
“Our small trucks make it exceedingly difficult to put out fires, but perhaps we will be taught how to use the new Belarus trucks since they have a capacity of transporting at least 5 000 litres of water, which is much better.”