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Food for thought for Lake of Stars on fire accident

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By Sam Banda Jnr:

Some people who patronised the 2018 Lake of Stars (LoS) Festival have called on LoS and other festival organisers to put in place enough fire extinguishers and fire fighting teams to fight fire accidents.

During the just ended three-day LoS, four cars burned on the second day of the festival.

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A BMW was the first to burn with the other three, which included a minibus, burning later when Kenya’s Sauti Sol was performing.

Several reports came out after the incident, with some quarters suspecting arson.

It also proved during the incident that many people do not know how to operate fire extinguishers as noticed when the three cars were burning.

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People struggled to operate them and the delay syndrome by fire fighters was also there as they came late when the three cars were burning and it also took time for the water to come out.

“It’s food for thought for Lake of Stars and [organisers of] other festivals to make sure that they should be having a fire fighting team on site,” Ireen Tembo, who travelled all the way from Mzuzu, said.

Gift Bakuwa, who is based in Lilongwe, said the festival has done well in its organisation and that they do things perfectly but the fire accident has challenged them to do more.

“It’s not that they do things wrongly; for me, they are always on point, good organisation, timely performances, good rules on site but now they have to look into the fire department seriously and other challenges that may come up,” Bakuwa said.

LoS released a statement on Sunday after the fire accident saying a possible a electric fault with a vehicle in the main car park caused a fire.

The organisers further said high winds and simmering embers led to the secondary fire and with three other cars being destroyed.

Several other vehicles were moved away from the site as a precaution and the area was securely cordoned to prevent further damage.

“Thanks to the efficient collaboration of Lake of Stars Festival security teams, the Malawi Defence Force and Kabumba Hotel the fire was quickly contained before becoming a major incident and without any injury or threat to life,” reads the statement from the organisers.

Lake of Stars Festival also said they were extremely sorry that this happened to impact on what was otherwise a fantastic festival.

“Our thoughts are with those whose cars and possessions were damaged”, Will Jameson, director of the festival, said.

LoS spokesperson, Zilanie Gondwe, Wednesay said fire experts have yet to determine the exact nature of the fault.

Gondwe said LoS does its best to consider contingencies and health and safety.

“We encourage camping which sometimes has cooking camp fires. The food vendors and hotel engage in open fire cooking, therefore we understand and aim to seriously mitigate the risk of fires at every festival,” she said.

Gondwe said Malawi is a country that is challenging for professional event management and requisite services in the city and, even more, a lakeshore location.

Meanwhile, LoS has said they created a partnership with Kabumba that worked very hard to deliver the 15th year edition headlined by among others Major Lazer from United States of America.

LoS also said they will release venue information at the start of the year for 2019.

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