Chiwempala market in Chingola on the Copperbelt has been gutted.

The fire started around 02:00 hours this morning and was only put out at around 04:00 hours.

It swept through the hardware shops on the Eastern side of the market near the rail line including all the make-shift restaurants destroying over 26 shops in total.

Chiwempala Market Health Committee Chairperson Joseph Phiri said the inferno started from make-shift restaurants which are made of timber offcuts prone to fire.

However, Phiri said although the cause was not yet established, the primary suspicion was the brazier which could have been left unattended in one of the make shift-restaurant.

“We have people who sleep here and we can’t suspect an outsider apart from ourselves. The sad part is that soon after the fire scavengers came to loot all metallic debris to sell as scrap metal,” he said.

One of the victims Given Kabuswe said she was heartbroken because her well-stocked shop with hardware worth over K150, 000 was destroyed.

And Chiwemapala Market Committee chairperson for Community Crime Prevention Unit Willy Sinyiza who was at the market at the time when fire started, said fire came from “nowhere” and swept through the market.

The inferno was only put off soon after Konkola Copper Mines Fire Tenders reinforced the Council efforts.

Police are yet to give a statement concerning the fire.

The incident comes barely 3 weeks after Buteko market in Mufulira was gutted.