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Fire guts Lilongwe market

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A fierce fire razed down Lilongwe main market which is near the main bus depot and destroyed property.

The incident happened in the early hours of Friday.

By the time we went to press, the cause of the fire was not yet known and the actual value of the property that had been destroyed had not yet been ascertained.

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Some business people, who we talked to and have lost their property, blamed the Lilongwe City Assembly Fire Brigade for coming late to put out the fire which they argued could not have caused the huge damage if the brigade had arrived in time.

Some angry people were pelting stones at two fire brigade vehicles–one belonging to the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) and another to the Lilongwe City Assembly–accusing the fire fighters of not being serious.

In the process, the driver of the MDF fire truck was injured and rushed to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) where he was reportedly treated as an outpatient.

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MDF spokesperson, Paul Chiphwanya, confirmed the incident in an interview yesterday afternoon.

“We were asked to help in fighting the fire because we have fire trucks at our air base, so we accepted as Malawians but after our fire truck had arrived at the scene, some people began to pelt stones and the driver of our truck was injured. But he was treated as an outpatient and is home as I am talking to you now,” said Chiphwanya.

Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Grace Chiumia, and her counterpart at Information, Malison Ndau, visited the scene of the accident.

In an interview later in the day, Chiumia said on the part of security, she was impressed that officers had come to the scene in time.

However, those who were at the scene during the early stages of the fire say some people were looting shops and getting away with different kinds of merchandise.

Several parts of the country have had their markets razed down by fierce fires which have left businesspeople struggling to get back onto their feet.

In recent memory, Lilongwe has witnessed at least six market fires which have destroyed property worth millions of kwacha.

Just last month, part of Kachikungu market which is also near Lilongwe Bus Depot was gutted down by fire apparently due to an electric fault.

And the gutting down of Lilongwe Main Market comes hot on the heels of accusations that the country’s fire brigades are failing in their duties.

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