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Fire guts warehouse in Blantyre

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Owners of Deekay Suppliers and Chemicals Limited were welcomed by a rude awakening on Sunday after their warehouse in Blantyre caught fire around 6 o’clock in the morning.

According to the Warehouse Manager, Bizwick James, he got a phone call from one of the guards that there was an alert of a fire in the warehouse.

“Minutes later the guard called again saying fire was raging. I immediately alerted my boss and other workmates in the warehouse to quickly go to the office to open it. I then rushed to the warehouse too,” he said.

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He said firefighters whose office is at a stone’s throw distance from the warehouse came to their rescue soon after they were contacted.

As of 10:30 in the morning, fire raged on as firefighters attempted to douse it.

Senior fire officer responsible for operations at Blantyre City Council, Prescott Sailasi, said they found that the fire had gone wild the time they arrived at the scene.

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He also said their efforts to extinguish the fire were delayed due to the poor storage arrangement of goods in the warehouse.

“We have the capacity to put off the fire in time but when we got in the warehouse, our movements were blocked by rubble; the goods were poorly arranged, they could have at least left a space of about one metre between the goods or between the goods and wall or the roof so that in the case of such an emergency, we would be able to move around. In this case we cannot reach where the fire is, but we are trying our best,” he said.

Sailasi also said the firefighting team run out of breathing apparatus, a development that was forcing the fire fighters to go out to inhale fresh air.

“The air inside is poisonous. The warehouse is stocked with chemicals and other herbicides as such it is difficult to withstand the fumes. Our breathing apparatus ran out of air and we had no option but to move out for fresh air,” he said.

The warehouse manager conceded that they had in stock agricultural chemicals which he also felt contributed to the persistence of the fire.

The firefighting team comprised of three fire engines and over 20 firefighters.

Sailasi denied having problems to get water for the exercise as the source was only 50 metres away.

Blantyre Police Officer-in-Charge, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ellobium Banda, could not disclose the cause of the fire, saying police were still working on their investigations together with officials from Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi.

The premises was heavily guarded by police officers as scores of onlookers stood by the gates.

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