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Veld fire guts Cyrene High School

by Staff reporter
26 Aug 2017 at 08:11hrs | Views
A raging veld fire swept through Cyrene High School yesterday and destroyed a teacher's cottage and property worth more than $40 000
PROPERTY worth more than $40 000 was destroyed and a teacher's cottage was reduced to rubble when a raging veld fire swept through Cyrene High School in Figtree yesterday.

There was a flurry of activity as staff and villagers scrambled to create fire breaks in the face of the hungry flames.

Well organised teams battled to clear vegetation and combustible material before sprinkling water to contain the fire.

Villagers said they believed the action taken before the arrival of the Bulawayo Fire Brigade saved the day.

A teacher who declined to be identified said the inferno had worsened an accommodation crisis at the school.

"We already had accommodation challenges at the school even before this fire razed one of our buildings.

"This is a huge setback as some teachers are already sharing cottages, even those staying with families. This means that we will be more cramped as we will have to accommodate our colleague in the remaining cottages," he said.

The occupant of the burnt cottage cannot be named as he was away from the school and had not yet been officially notified of the incident when The Chronicle left the scene.

Firefighters were still battling to put out the fire when The Chronicle news crew arrived at the scene.

Before the arrival of the Fire Brigade, teachers had already broken open the door and had salvaged some property from the cottage before the roof caved in.
Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer Mr Richard Peterson confirmed the incident.

"I can confirm that we attended to a fire at Cyrene High School at around 3PM on Friday 25 August 2017. A veld fire spread out into the premises of the school, destroying a thatched house," he said.

Mr Peterson urged property owners and the community to safeguard their properties from being destroyed by fires.

He urged people who live close to bushes to maintain fireguards to avoid fires destroying valuable property and threatening lives.

"People should always ensure that fireguards of at least 10 metres are well maintained at all times. Any smaller fireguard is ineffective, especially in windy times as a fire can jump over it, so the minimum fireguard should be at least 10 metres. We should all help prevent veld fires from encroaching into premises," Mr Peterson said.

"Losing structures and property requires a lot of money to restore, however it takes less money to maintain fire guards and help reduce the chances of having such fire incidences".

Cyrene High School deputy headmistress Mrs Precious Mawoko said no one was injured at the school but authorities were yet to ascertain if all livestock was safe.

"We are just grateful that nobody was injured and that no life was lost. We thank the Fire Brigade for their swift response to our distress call and members of staff for working together to salvage property and calling for help," she said.

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