Veld Fire Leaves Eighteen Families Homeless

26 July 2011

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Zimbabwe — AT least 18 families were left homeless when a raging veldfire swept across Matau communal lands in Hurungwe on Saturday destroying homesteads and property worth thousands of dollars.

Most of the families had their granaries razed, leaving them facing starvation.

Coincidentally, 22 homesteads were destroyed in the same area this time last year, when a veldfire swept through Chief Matau’s area.

This time around, the families, whose entire homesteads were under grass thatch, were left stranded and there are fears that many more might have fallen victim as the fire swept westwards.

Most of the homesteads in the area are not protected by fireguards.

Granaries and household property such as sofas, beds, radios, television sets, solar panels, ox-drawn carts and clothing, among others, were gutted by the raging fire, which villagers failed to put out due to lack of equipment and knowledge.

No deaths were reported but only a few goods were salvaged from the burning homes.

Using tree branches, water buckets and sprayers, the villagers were no match to the inferno that was aided by strong westerly winds.

The fire, whose origin is still subject to speculation, swept through harvested fields, valleys and vast swathes of grasslands starting Saturday morning.

By Sunday it was still raging towards Binga, Sanyati, Siyakobvu and Kariba, where there are fears of a huge disaster owing to the thick forests in the areas.

One of the victims Mrs Charity Gobo’s homestead comprising four houses, a storage shed and granary, was left in ruins.

Ironically, Mrs Gobo had gone to assist her grandmother put out a fire at the other end of Dinhika Village. She sobbed uncontrollably, when she returned to her homestead to find out the fire had gutted everything in her absence, leaving only brick and mortar standing.

“This is the end of me. All what I worked for over the years is gone. All the clothes are gone, I am left with what I am putting on right now.

“I have lost my solar panel, my DVD player, my maize, my money, blankets, ox-drawn cart, sprayers and chicken.

“I have lost virtually everything,” wailed Mrs Gobo as other villagers tried to calm her down.

Mrs Magaret Gobo, Mr Mutizwa Musvina, Mr Robert Maregere, Ms Salome Gobo and Mr Nelson Maregere were some of the victims of the inferno.

In Murimbika Village the fire left Mr Norman Chidyafodya, Mr Themba Mataranyika, Ms Sheilla Mataranyika, Mr Goodson Murimbika and Mr Moses Mugutwe, homeless.

In Tanasi Village near Zvimhonja School, village head, Mr Ephraim Gombarago Matsvaire said four homesteads and six tobacco bans had been destroyed by the inferno.

“It was a very strong fire. It was moving very fast and I must say that we were lucky it came during the day. If it was at night, many people could have been killed. The fire is now almost past our area and heading towards Binga but with plenty of grass that side, it might end up being worse than us.

“Our biggest challenge now is housing, clothing and food for those affected. Most of the people were not at home when the fire got there and they lost everything. A few managed so salvage something but this is a disaster.

“We have a disaster on our hands,” he said.

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