Fire guts Leopard Match factory: Police join firefighting using anti-riot water cannon

There was a strong commotion on Monday morning at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre when a strong explosion occurred at Leopard Match Limited factory that saw its consequent fire outbreak spreading to its neighbouring company Eshani Products’ premises.

The fire and explosion is reported to have started from an electrical fault and its blast was so strong that neighbouring buildings’ windows were smashed.

Backward: The police anti-riot truck that rushed to the scene

Unconfirmed number of people were reported to have been injured in the incident but fatalities haven’t yet been established.

The fire brigade from Blantyre City Council rushed to the scene but the inferno was so intense that the Malawi Police Service rushed over to assist using its anti-riot water cannon truck.

The police’s unconventional intervention ignited fresh debate on social media on the country’s firefighting response, with Tiko Chimkowola-Kadaluka suggesting the huge size of the fire and the small size of the Fire Brigade truck is a clear indication that the country needs to invest highly in bigger trucks.

The Fire Brigade truck at the scene

Patrick Kalumba agreed and went further to say: “It’s high time as a nation we invested in the [Fire Department]. In fact, I feel it would be prudent to make the Fire Brigade as a stand alone government department or parastatal.”

Others felt that City Councils are not well funded to properly manage their Fire Brigades as they most times fail to distinguish simple fires as they run out of water.

Benard Crussoe observed that the Fire Brigade is just “around the corner and still failed to extinguish the fire”, adding that “not so long ago, some facility also burned to ashes and it was opposite the fire HQ.”

Marcus Kajipenjele Gondwe suggested that there is a need to have firefighting vehicles at every few kilometres, especially around the cities.

The billowing smoke

Kagwa Dzonzi observed that this is the second time an inferno has hit the factory in recent times, saying “there must be something very special behind this preventable uncertainty” to which Samuel Banda said Leopard Match should have its own fire fighting department on the ground with its own trained fire fighters.

Achirwa A-edgar responded to ask what as a company are its fire prevention measures, saying Malawians are fond to doing business the short cut way — thus there are many accidents that could have been prevented.

Smashed windows from the blast at neighbouring office complex

While applauding the police for their commendable response, Mac Wellingtone Kapenuka was incredulous that a vehicle designed for controlling riots should be unavoidably be used for such huge fire.

To which Febbie Kamphulusa attested that the water cannon truck was once used at Nchesi in Lilongwe and arrived at the scene faster than the Fire Brigade.

Another shocking behaviour and lackadaisical attitude that Malawians are fond of manifested itself that clearly indicated that people need to be civic educated when such accidents happen.

One passenger that appeared to be in a commuter minibus filmed a video clip as they passed by the scene of the accident and captured some passers-by peeping into the company premises to find out what happened instead of running far from the scene.

It wasn’t until there was another sudden explosion that they scampered away, to which Mapopa Williams opined that “Malawians aren’t serious about safety”, saying he also saw a a video clip of Leopard Match workers rolling away to safety some drums of raw materials.

He was so incredulous, saying after such a strong explosion “everyone should run off and not linger around such places. What if a fresh explosion occurs?”

The video clip showed management supervising the exercise of saving the raw materials and Williams suggested that they need to be taken to task.

Jibu Risasi Nyirenda said matchstick tops are the same as gunpowder and “safety 101 says when there is a fire, first option is run for your life”.

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2 years ago

This shows that the Asians community despite in control of our economy they don’t follow safety procedures. This is the second Match factory to be gutted by fire after the one in Maone Industrial Park owned by the same business man. For a long time Leopard Matches Company has never met this tragedy but upon bought by these guys who are after profits not developing the place and make sure that the place is safe to the employees, customers and factory itself they neglected the No 1 thing which is safety. And our Ministry of Labour the Occupational Health and… Read more »

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