Kombani Africa Lodge in Plumtree, Matabeleland South, was burned down after a veld fire got out of control, Wednesday.
The incident occurred around 2 pm and within a few minutes almost all structures with thatched roofs had burnt down.
Efforts by the fire brigade to dowse the raging flames were fruitless as the truck ran out of water a number of times, making countless trips to refill.
Guest rooms, the facility bar and the conference room went down in flames.
Members of the community, soldiers and staff members tried to salvage furniture from the rooms as well as guests’ property.
Eyewitnesses told this publication said the fire started close to the Plumtree Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) depot (a short distance from the lodge) and the flames leapt to the thatched roofs.
“We saw the fire around mid-morning, it was close to the VID. The challenge is this lodge is surrounded by overgrown grass, it was too tall. There’s a high probability that the flames leapt from the grass behind the rooms,” a witness said.
A guest who was booked at the lodge, Dr Shephard Maphisa and said he learnt about the fire via social media and when he arrived the whole block where his room was, was already ablaze.
“I couldn’t go inside my room. The whole block was on fire. My clothes were in the room and so was my passport, that is one thing I’m most worried about,” Dr Maphisa said.
“This property belongs to my friend, he is based outside the country. Imagine what he is going through right now. With the current economic situation, it would be difficult to resuscitate this place. It is just as good as starting afresh.”
The lodge is owned by businessman Charles Moyo who is based in South Africa.
Bulilima West Member of Parliament and Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, Postal and Courier Services, Dingumuzi Phuti who was at the scene said the incident was a huge setback in the development of his constituency.
“I’m very devastated by this incident. This place was the flagship of Plumtree. I was one of the people to lay the first foundation for this place back in 2006. The owner of this place is very passionate about issues of development. Such am incident is a huge setback to him,” said Phuti.
He implored the Plumtree Town Council to prioritize clean up campaigns and to improve on service delivery.
“There have been incidents of fire in our constituency where businesses burn down and also incidents where there are drownings due to uncovered pits. We implore the local authority to attend to such issues to avoid these kind of incidents,” Phuti said.