POLICE in collaboration with firefighters and some security organs are carrying out an investigation into the massive blaze, which destroyed two tourists’ hotels in Zanzibar.
The hotels - Ocean Paradise and TUI Blue Bahari in Pwani- Mchangani coastal village in Unguja North region went ablaze on Saturday night, prompting police to say it could take some time to complete investigations.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Haji Abdulla Haji, who is the Unguja North Region Regional Police Commander (RPC) said investigations are underway to find out the cause of the fire reported at 2.00am Saturday night.
“The fire started from the Ocean paradise’s maintenance room and then it spread to the Administration block to the Store and Kitchen, Cold-room and Conference Hall. The huge fire then put down a restaurant, reception and batik cloth shop, burning all their properties,” RPC Haji said.
He said the fire then spread to the next TUI Blue Bahari resort, where 129 visitors’ were evacuated to a safe place that night.
“Fortunately, we recorded no casualty, because the fire did not reach the area, where about 100 visitors in Ocean Paradise were sleeping. It is unfortunate that there was loss of properties and buildings,” he said.
The ACP said that the burnt hotels’ structures had thatched roofs, fueling fire before the fire fighters with the help of the residents controlled it.
“In our investigations, we also want to know whether the hotels had insurance and fire detection systems,” he hinted.
At the scene, the Minister for Tourist and Heritage Ms Lela Mohamed Mussa expressed her deep sorrow, saying that it was another unexpected blow in the tourism industry in the Island; however, she asked the hotel proprietors improve fire putting out systems in the hotels to minimise such big losses.
More than ten hotels have been gutted by fire in the past decade and frequently members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives raise concern about the inferno, with some suggesting abandoning thatched roofs and pushing for an improved fire system and response.
Almost five years ago, hotel owners were directed by the government to have proper waste disposal, sanitation, and fire putting out systems.
Equally, the government promised to improve rescue and firefighters, which include establishing Fire Fighters Stations close to residential and investment areas.