There was pandemonium on Wednesday night in Mzuzu City as fierce fire gutted the main market near the bus terminal, destroying property worth millions of kwacha whose real value was yet to be established.
The fire, which started around 7pm and whose cause was yet to be established, also razed down two one-storey buildings, rendering homeless six Indian families who were residing in the top floors of the buildings. Bible Society of Malawi offices on the top floors of one of the buildings were also affected.
Mzuzu City Council Fire Brigade officers were seen panicking as they tried to put out the flames in good time but to no avail. The only two fire vehicles on several occasions left the fire scene to get more water.
Mzuzu City Deputy Mayor, Frazer Chunga, admitted that firefighters struggled to put out the flames. He said there was need for intensive training for fire officers to be able to handle big fires.
Chunga also said firefighters are denied resources and hence crippling their work.
“The city was also poorly designed, giving no room for fire fighters to do their work efficiently,” added Chunga.
All buses in the depot were quickly driven out for safety. As the fire consumed property mercilessly, some thugs took advantage of the calamity and were seen climbing the fence of the market on the other side along the Mzuzu-Karonga Road, helping themselves to property that did not belong to them.
Police were overwhelmed and soldiers from Moyale Barracks descended on the scene to tighten security.
Northern Region Police spokesperson, Maurice Chapola, could not state the cause of the fire and details of any arrests saying it was too early to do so.
The fire united the city residents as they came in large numbers to witness what some described as the worst inferno in the history of the city.
Member of Parliament for Mzuzu City was at the scene in solidarity with residents of the city.
“This fire has shocked us. This is the fourth fire in two years. We suspect that some people are behind these fires. Now these vendors have nothing and they need immediate assistance. But how will that happen when many markets are getting burnt every time?” Njikho said.
The vendors committee held an impromptu meeting on Thursday morning and the chairperson Immanuel Munthali said the vendors were yet to establish the cause of the fire. He also said it was premature to quantify the lost property.
“This is the third fire since April this year. We have tried to ask for a meeting with the city council to meet over these fires but they always say they are busy. We are not happy with that. Let the country know that we have completely nothing and we do not know how we shall survive,” said Munthali.
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