Fire has destroyed property of an unsubstantiated amount belonging to stall owners inside Area 18A Market in Lilongwe following a suspected electrical fault.
No injuries or casualties have been reported from the fire which, shop owners say, began around 7.30 pm in one of the stalls where hardware equipment is sold.
The market, which is run by Lilongwe City Council (LCC), is surrounded by hairdressing salons, bars, liquor stores, boutiques and a Puma service station just 200 metres away, but the fire only affected the market.
A preliminary investigation by LCC fire department found that the fire was caused by an electrical faults but inquiries are ongoing, according to LCC public relations manager Tamara Chafunya.
“We can also confirm that a lot of property has been lost through the fire, but we are yet to assess how much. Management and the Minister of Local Government [Kondwani Nankhumwa] will be visiting the market this afternoon to gather more information,” Chafunya said in an interview yesterday.
Fire engires arrived on the scene a short time later but they failed to extinguish the fire after they ran out of water.
Chafunya said that most fire hydrants placed alongside the roads in Area 18 have since been vandalised and they have not been replaced.
The nearest points for the fire department to collect water are Kanengo and Old Town.
The Ndovi family, residents of Area 49 Dubai and shop owners in the market selling hardware and tailoring products, had fear and desperation etched on their faces as they recounted how they heard the news that the market was on fire.
“We think the fire started around 7pm, but we were only phoned around 8pm to come and rescue our goods, but it was too late. My wife has lost goods amounting to over K1.5 million while mine was close to K2.5 million. If the fire was caused by an electrical fault, we want compensation,” Ndovi said.
In the past four months, fire has gutted Tsoka Flea Market, Mzimba and Mzuzu Matabwa markets in Lilongwe, and Kamuzu Road Market in Salima.