Arson feared as Pomeroy shops gutted

2010-08-25 00:00

A LARGE fire, the cause of which is still being investigated, reduced six businesses to ashes and damaged the rest of a shopping complex in Pomeroy in the midlands yesterday morning.

Firefighters from the uMsinga Fire Department who doused the flames said it is unclear what had sparked the fire, but they suspect that it may have been arson.

“[While] we were busy working hard to put the fire out and protect more businesses from the disaster, people were busy pointing fingers at certain individuals,” said a firefighter who wished not to be named.

However, there is also a possibility that a gas cylinder exploded.

Police spokesperson Captain Shoes Magudulela confirmed that a case of arson has been opened and is under investigation.

“We are expecting forensic experts from Pretoria to arrive in the area to detemine the cause of the fire,” said Magudulela.

The chief commander of uMsinga Fire Department, Khalesakhe Mchunu, said the fire started at a butchery at about 5.30 am and quickly spread to the neigbouring businesses.

Smoke damage affected almost the whole shopping complex,

“We received a call informing us about the fire at about 6.23 am, and we arrived at the scene at about 6.35 am,” said ­Mchunu. “We found that the fire had already completely destroyed six businesses. We were able to stop the fire before it spread to a nearby Caltex garage and other shops.”

Mchunu said the fire damaged outlets selling hardware, electric appliances, fruit and vegetables, and a fashion store.

He added that local farmers, business owners and uMzinyathi District Municipality helped to fight the blaze by providing trucks and bakkies with water tanks.

No one was injured in the blaze, which started before any of the businesses were open for the day.

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