One of the hospitality’s establishments in Mulanje, Mulanje View Motel has been gutted down by fire which started at around 10:00 o’clock in the morning on Wednesday until 3:00 in the afternoon when it was put out.
The delay to put out the fire was due to lack of a fire fighting engine and skilled fire fighters in the district.
According to Mulanje Police Station Public Relations Officer, Gresham Ngwira, the police were yet to investigate the cause of the fire and the value of the property damaged by the fire.
However, Mulanje View Motel official, Joseph Mphepo said the fire is suspected to have started from an electrical fault in one of the rooms at the lodge.
“It was around 10 o’clock when one of the cleaners came running to my office to report that the ceiling in one of the rooms was on fire.
“When we rushed to the site, we found the whole corridor in smoke. Up to now we are failing to establish the cause of the fire but we think it’s an electrical fault which originated from the ceiling,” Mphepo said.
He said a lot of property has been damaged as the fire spread across the whole wing affecting 18 rooms.
“So far, 18 self-contained rooms have been damaged and all property that was in the rooms has been burnt to ashes. This accounts for 36 beds, beddings and mattresses, including other items we are yet to discover,” he said.
Mphepo, therefore, lamented on the late response from the fire department, saying a lot of property could have been saved if the fire department responded in time.
“We tried to call the fire department but have not showed up, up to now (3:30 p.m),” he said.
However, Mphepo thanked Esperanza Tea Company, Mulanje Police Station and surrounding communities for helping in putting out the fire.
Unavailability of a fire engine and trained fire fighters has been a problem in Mulanje for years now. The situation has led to fire accidents destroying Mulanje District Hospital Hostel, Mulanje Depot Market and recently, a hostel at Providence Girls Secondary School.
Last year (2018), the district council amended its disaster contingency plan (2018-22) to include fire accidents as one of the most likely disasters to occur alongside floods and drought.
The council has since been lobbying with various partners to have its own fire engine other than relying on Blantyre Fire Department which is over 60 kilometers away from Mulanje.
Recently, when Providence Girls Secondary School was partly gutted down by fire, an official from Malawi Red Cross Society advised Mulanje District Council to have a fire engine as one way of controlling fire accidents to save lives and minimize damage to property.