WASHINGTON DC —
A fuel service station in downtown Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, was reduced to ashes late Thursday after it caught fire while taking delivery.
Redan Service Station, located at the Main Street and 5th Avenue intersection, exploded into a fireball when two trucks unloading fuel caught fire that witnesses said was triggered by an ironsmith who was welding metal nearby.
Rush hour shoppers and passersby quickly scrambled for cover and watched from a distance as the fire engulfed both delivery trucks and the garage.
Pictures sent to VOA via social media showed a huge fireball and dark plumes of smoke billowing into the air.
The trucks are estimated to have contained a combined average of 30, 000 litres of fuel valued at over $500, 000. Incredibly, the tankers did not explode.
Bulawayo Police Spokesman, Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo confirmed the incident but would not shed more light, saying investigations were underway.
Witnesses said while the fire brigade appeared ill-prepared for the disaster, it managed to contain the fire and prevent a potentially fatal situation.
"Amazingly, there were no injuries or deaths," said journalist Pindai Dube. "The fire brigade did a very good job by managing to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby structures."