TWENTY people cheated death when a house in Bulawayo’s Mpopoma suburb caught fire following a petrol explosion.
One of the victims, Lenxious Sibanda (27) of New Lobengula, sustained life-threatening burns and was rushed to Mpilo Central Hospital where he is admitted.
The victim is alleged to have stolen 20 litres of petrol belonging to his parents who are based in Botswana and intended to sell it on the black market.
After stealing the fuel, he took it to Mpopoma where he hid it at a friend’s family house.
The victim’s sister, Ms Leterevy Sibanda said her brother is in a critical condition at Mpilo Central Hospital following the explosion that occurred on Sunday at about 9AM.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited the house in Mpopoma where the explosion occurred. The window panes were shattered following the explosion while blankets, a mattress and a headboard were burnt. The walls of the room were still black due to the fumes.
The owner of the house, Ms Margret Mangwiro said she was busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen when the house caught fire.
She said there were 20 people in the house when the incident occurred.
“I was in the kitchen preparing breakfast when I sensed a strange smell in the house and the next thing, I saw a cloud of flames. I screamed for help as I directed my grandchildren who were in the lounge to vacate the house, which was already on fire,” she said.
Ms Mangwiro said her neighbours swiftly reacted and helped put out the fire while her grandson, Mr George Mangwiro and his friend Mr Wellington Mukonza battled to rescue Lenxious who was trapped in the inferno.
“It was a terrible sight as my neighbours joined us in putting out the fire using sand and water. My grandson and his friend took the risk and got inside the room where the fire had started to rescue Lenxious who was trapped inside,” she said.
Ms Mangwiro said she suspects that Lenxious could have been smoking in the room.
“It seems Lenxious was smoking a cigarette in the room, which had a container of fuel resulting in the explosion that nearly cost our lives. There were 20 people in the house including my grandchildren who had visited us for the weekend,” she said.
Ms Mangwiro said her grandchildren are still traumatised following the incident.
“My grandchildren are still traumatised and they are even afraid of using the room, which caught fire. They lost some of the blankets, but we managed to salvage their clothes although their mattress and headboard where damaged by the fire,” she said.
Mr Mukonza said they risked their lives to save Lenxious who was trapped in the room.
“It was a matter of taking chances to save Lenxious who was trapped in the room which was on fire. When the fire started, he failed to come out and we had to rescue him from the burning flames,” he said.
“He sustained severe burns and we had to arrange for an ambulance, which took him to hospital.”
Lenxious’ sister, Ms Sibanda said her brother stole 20 litres of petrol which was meant to be used by their parents to fuel their car for a trip to their rural home in Nyamandlovu during the Easter holiday.
“He took the fuel without the permission from our parents and the intention was to sell it on the black market. We were shocked when his friends came to inform us that he had been rushed to hospital after he was burnt in a petrol explosion at a house in Mpopoma,” she said.
Bulawayo acting chief fire officer Mr Linos Phiri said when the fire fighters arrived at the scene, residents had already put out the fire using buckets of water and sand.
Property worth $10 000 was lost in the inferno.
“The victim experienced second degree burns and was rushed to Mpilo hospital to seek medical attention. Police were called to the scene and investigation are still in progress,” said Mr Phiri.
“We also wish to advise members of the public to desist from selling illegal fuel and neighbours should always report such cases to the police.” – Chronicle