(Ukiona mtu mzima analia,ujue kuna jambo limemfika".!Pichani ni Mkurugenzi wa Paradise Resort Bagamoyo akiwa amekaa kwenye kiti huku akibubujikwa na machozi kufuatia tukio la moto mkubwa ulioteketeza hoteli hiyo. Picha kutoka Jiachie Blog)
Wadau, kama miaka mitano au zaidi iliyopita, nakumbuka kusikia kuwa hao wenye hoteli huko Bagamoyo walikuwa na nia ya kujenga kituo cha Fire Brigade. Mipango iliishia wapi? Kwa kweli kama Bagamoyo ingekuwa na Fire Brigade huenda moto isingekuwa mkubwa hivyo.
Infernos expose Dar
Kutoka The Citizen
By Deogratias Kishombo
Tanzania's lack of preparedness for major disasters was exposed yesterday after fire destroyed two famous tourist hotels in Bagamoyo.
As Paradise Holiday Resort and Oceanic Bay Hotel went up in smoke, another fire broke out in Dar es Salaam, destroying a house at Mbagala.
Earlier, firefighters rushed to the British Council offices in the city centre, only to discover that it was a false alarm triggered by a faulty warning system.
As they were attending to the situation, they received information that a fire had broken out at a house in Mbagala.
They arrived in Mbagala after about half an hour, but no sooner had they started putting out the blaze than they were notified that a major fire had broken out at two adjacent hotels in Bagamoyo.
Fire engines with sirens blazing set out for Bagamoyo, some 65 kilometres away, arriving after about an hour at around midday. It was, however, too late as the once-prestigious beach hotels were nothing more that smouldering shells.
Eyewitnesses said workers and guests at the hotels could only look on helplessly as fire ravaged the buildings for over three hours before dying down because there was nothing more to burn. Dense smoke could be seen rising high up into the clear sky from the site.
The fire started in the kitchen of the Paradise Holiday Resort, according to the front office manager, Mr Godfrey Runyungu.
He said the building in which the kitchen and restaurant were located caught fire after a gas tank exploded.
"The fire started around at ten in the morning, and was so fierce that the entire building was reduced to ashes in only 20 minutes. Strong winds from the ocean made things more complicated as fire spread to other buildings," he said, adding that nobody was injured.
The Dar es Salaam Fire Brigare was notified of the blaze at 11.54am, and the first fire engine reached the scene of accident at 12.47pm.
Residents of Mangesani and neighbouring areas were the first to arrive at the scene, but were helpless against the towering flames.
Paradise Holiday Resort chairman Guled Abdallah said he was thankful that nobody was killed in the incident.
"Everything has been destroyed?we tried our level best to save lives and we succeeded. Everybody is safe, but we have lost everything," he said.
He added that the hotel had 170 permanent employees and 30 part-timers, who all escaped unhurt.
Earlier, Oceanic Bay Hotel managing director Rahul Layan told reporters that the fire started at Paradise Holiday Resort, but added that he was not sure what the cause was.
"Strong winds blew the flames from Paradise Resort to our hotel. As you can see, everything has been destroyed. We have not been able to rescue anything apart from people who were working at the hotel when the fire broke out.
"The most important thing was to ensure that all our employees and guests were safe. It was impossible to salvage anything as he fire was very fierce," Mr Layan said.
Youths from surrounding villages had a field day, stealing anything they could lay their hands among the ruins.
Some of them could be seen walking away with items such as desktop computers, laptops, television sets and fire extinguishers.
A local resident, Mr Edgar Nazar, said some of the thieves arrived in canoes, which they used to ferry valuables looted from the destroyed hotels.
Bagamoyo District Commissioner Serenge Mrengo was among the first people to arrive at the scene.
He said the destruction of the two hotels was a ?cruel? blow to the district.
"We have lost two important symbols of development in our district. It will take a long time to recover from this," he said.
Firefighters from Dar es Salaam extinguished the last smouldering remnants of the hotels at around 1pm.
The two hotels, particularly Paradise Holiday Resort, have transformed Bagamoyo from a sleepy coastal town - previously famous only for its rich history - into a major conference centre in Tanzania.
It was only last week that stakeholders in the tourism industry ranked Bagamoyo third after Dar es Salaam and Arusha among the focal areas for conference tourism in the country.
In recent years, the historic town has rivalled Arusha in hosting major conferences to the extent of forcing owners of conference venues in the northern town to travel all the way to Dar es Salaam to carry out aggressive marketing after noting that Bagamoyo was becoming a serious competitor.
Paradise Holiday Resort has hosted dozens of conferences and high-profile meetings since it opened its doors for the first time in 1998.
The facility started off as a beach resort with a few rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and snack bar.
The establishment underwent major expansion from 2000 to 2004, with the focus being on conference facilities and the addition of more rooms to cater to a diverse clientele ranging from ordinary visitors to tourists and VIPs.
Oceanic Bay Hotel was put up on an adjacent plot. The two were the leading hotels in Bagamoyo Town, although other beach resorts cropped up in later years.