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'Homeless Shelter' Blaze Torches Six Vehicles in Downtown Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

  • Ntungamili Nkomo

A massive fire gutted a derelict building used by homeless people in central Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, on Wednesday and burned down six cars that were parked in the vicinity.

The building, sitting at the intersection of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street and 11th Avenue, was reportedly vacated by a Toyota dealership a few years ago and is currently on the market for tenancy.

Local authority officials suspect the blaze was accidentally started by homeless persons, known in local lingo as "izibhonda," who have sheltered themselves in the building to stave off wintry weather.

One of the cars burnt down by a blaze that gutted a derelict building in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.
One of the cars burnt down by a blaze that gutted a derelict building in Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo.

A local journalist who visited the scene told VOA Studio 7 that he counted up to six burned vehicles; some partially, some totally. “Right now I would say six cars have been affected,” said the newsman as the fire raged.

While the building owners and the affected motorists were left counting their losses, resident Paul Masuku, who works nearby was breathing a sigh of relief after he save his car just in the nick of time.

“Someone came and told me to go and drive my car away because a fire had broken out. I did just that and I am happy I saved it,” Masuku told VOA.

The fire brigade, which is often ill-equipped, were able to put out the blaze before it spread to nearby buildings, including a local headquarters of the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO).

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