RESIDENTS of Kitwe’s Riverside Township threw stones at firefighters after they failed to quench a fire that swept through a market destroying property worth thousands of Kwacha.
Riverside market was gutted on Monday night and Kitwe City Council (KCC) fire-fighters rushed to the scene but their engine ran out of water amid the blaze. This caused onlookers to react angrily by throwing stones at the firemen who eventually abandoned their mission.
The inferno which started around 19:00 hours swept through the recently constructed trading area leaving destruction much to the bewilderment of the traders.
Some of the shocked traders wailed uncontrollably with Alice Banda, one of the affected, saying she had lost her source of income.
Ms Banda narrated that she was informed that the market was on fire and when she went to check, the inferno had already spread to most stalls including her shop.
She said firefighters from KCC tried to put out the fire but in the process ran out of water prompting on-lookers to start stoning the officers.
“All my goods have been destroyed and when the fire fighters came, they ran out of water and people started stoning them. In the process there was just confusion because others started looting the goods from the shops that had not been affected,” she said.
And KCC acting public relations manager Dorothy Sampa said the cause of the fire had not yet been established.
Ms Sampa said it was unfortunate that some KCC officers were injured and could not put off the fire properly because residents started stoning them.
“Our fire officers could not extinguish the fire properly, they ran for their lives after residents started throwing stones, causing injuries on the officers,” she said.
Ms Sampa appealed to residents to cooperate and avoid attacking fire officers during such operations.
And Riverside ward councillor Christopher Kang’ombe appealed to the Disaster Management Mitigating Unit (DMMU) to help the traders at the market build new shops.
“Following the fire that gutted the market stalls and part of the market shelter at the central Riverside business area, I want to appeal to the DMMU in Kitwe through the District Commissioner to assist the traders in any way possible with reconstruction of the market stalls,” he said.
Mr Kang’ombe further advised traders at the market to avoid leaving loose electrical connections and blazers unattended to because they could have been source of the fire.