12-hour fire guts shop

2010-09-02 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG businessman has estimated he lost stock worth more than R3 million when his business of 20 years was gutted during a 12-hour fire yesterday.

Now Zak Ali fears that his chances of continuing in business have been shattered. His Ansari’s Discount Warehouse in Failworth Road, in a busy Allandale trade centre, was reduced to a shell of hanging corrugated iron sheets and melted windows after 11 am, when firefighters had managed to put out the flames. The blaze started at 11 pm on Tuesday.

“I’m in such a state of shock. To me it was like those Twin Towers in America coming down. I have lost everything that I have worked hard for,” said Ali.

Police and insurance investigators braved the heat to work in the wreckage and ash to figure out the cause of fire.

Only a few takkies, which were on a window display, survived the blaze.

“I estimate that I lost R3 million worth of stock, because my shop was very big. All my 20 years of hard work to establish a successful business have gone — like that,” said Ali.

He said he was awakened after 11 pm when a caller alerted him about the fire. When he got to the scene he found flames way above the building and firefighters battling to put it out.

Ali’s landlord, Kaps Singh, said he was also asleep when he received a call alerting him to the disaster at about 11.45 pm.

“I just stood and watched firefighters battling with fire. There was nothing I could to. I only returned back home at about 2.45am, and the fire was still on,” Singh said.

Firefighters from the Msunduzi Municipality worked through the night to douse the flames with five fire engines and a tanker. Singh said they ran out of water and the fire hydrants did not have pressure to fill up the fire engines.

“But the firefighters managed to stop the flames from spreading into my Famous Shoes shop [next to Ali’s shop].

“Things inside my building were only damaged by smoke,” said Singh.

He said his family put up the building in 1977 and ran it as a shoe factory, and then about six years ago he rented it out to Ali.

“Police and insurance investigators are here investigating,” he said.

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