The 52-bed Kombani Lodge was yesterday razed by an inferno that started as a veld fire near a Vehicle Inspectorate Department (VID) depot before a whirlwind lifted burning debris, which landed on the grass-thatched lodge.
The situation was worsened by the non-functional fire hydrants at the lodge while the 5 000-litre Plumtree Town Council fire tender made multiple trips after running out of water.
What remained of Kombani Lodge after the fire was doused by firefighters
The value of the lost property could not be ascertained last night but acting Plumtree Town secretary, Mr Thembalami Nyoni, said damage was extensive as they only managed to salvage a few assets like television sets and beds from some rooms.
Staff from the lodge, members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and the community tried in vain to extinguish the fire until the arrival of the local authority fire tender, but it was also overwhelmed.
“It started as grass fires but a whirlwind suddenly emerged and carried a small pocket of fire, which landed right on top of the lodge roof, which is grass-thatched. Due to windy conditions the fire quickly spread to other areas as well,” said Mr Nyoni.
He said while the fire tender came to the site on time, it had to make trips to water reservoirs to refill.
“The fire has been contained now, our colleagues from Bulawayo City Council’s fire department have also come to the site,” said Mr Nyoni.
“We have cordoned off the area to allow only the police, Zesa guys and fire tenders. At the moment it’s difficult to quantify the damage, but it’s extensive.”
This is not the first time that a huge structure has been destroyed by fire in Plumtree Town.
In 2018, a double-storey Lloyd House Hostel at Plumtree High School was reduced to a shell with the council’s fire tender allegedly breaking down while on its way to the school.
Kombani Lodge opened its doors to the public in 2010 and attained a three-star ranking in record time through its magnificent environs that offered a fun and relaxed ambiance.