BALES of hay worth thousands of dollars went up in smoke, after a fire broke out yesterday at the Ascot Racecourse in Bulawayo, destroying two trucks in the process.
The smoke was visible from the city centre with onlookers astonished by the flames and the loss of property, along the 12th Avenue extension.
According to online research, each bale of hay costs between US$1 and US$4 and with the heap that was burnt and the two trucks, it looks like it could run into the thousands.
When a Chronicle news crew arrived at the scene, the hay bales were well lit and teams of firefighters were dousing the two trucks. The area had thick clouds of smoke emanating from the burning bales of hay and was hot, from the heat generated by the flames.
One of the trucks had trailers filled with bales of hay, which were still burning and both vehicles’ tyres and seats were burnt.
The fire trucks ran out of water and a water bowser truck was summoned to try to help the situation.
What looked like the owner was in tears and was being consoled by other friends as the bales were going up in smoke. She was too distraught to speak to the media.
A worker at the premises, Mr Thembelihle Msimanga said windy conditions made the fire spread quickly.
“There was a small truck that was parked by a customer, next to the bales of hay, to load some bales. I think the exhaust was hot and it somehow lit one of the bales. By the time I realised the fire was already lit. I tried using a 20-litre container that had water, but it was too late as it spread, aided by the windy weather,” said Mr Msimanga.
He said he fears that the business will be closed and he and three others that work there will lose their livelihood.
“All these bales have gone up in flames and the only worry that we have is that does this mean that we shall lose our jobs. I’m worried,” said Mr Msimanga.
Bulawayo Chief Fire Officer Mr Linos Phiri came to the site and in an interview said they were still investigating the cause of fire.
“We received a call at around 1PM that there was a fire of hay bales at Ascot and we sent our teams to fight it. On arrival three fire trucks with the teams, found the place well lit. For now, we aren’t sure about the cause of the fire, we are still investigating. However, two trucks have been severely damaged,” said Mr Phiri. – Chronicle