GOBABIS: A near-catastrophe was averted at the Gobabis Open Market on Wednesday when a fire broke out here.
The fire, which was allegedly started by sparks from an electric grinder used to repair the roof of an adjacent building, saw a section of a thatch roof catching fire in a matter of seconds.
The fire was, however, put out by alert stall owners, who rushed to the scene with fire extinguishers, hosepipes and buckets of water to kill the flames.
Tenants had to dig a hole in the grass roof to get to the root of the fire, and to stop it from spreading.
The entire roof of the stalls is thatched with long, dry grass, which could have sparked a much larger fire had it not been contained in time.
Stall owners have, however, lost valuable items and products such as clothing attire, sewing machines and hair dryers because of the water used to extinguish this fire.
Ujama Marenga, who owns a tailoring shop at the stalls, said she will now have to refund many clients who brought clothes to her for alterations, as it was all damaged.
Another stall owner, Uvatera Kazapua, also does tailoring and echoed similar sentiments. She will also have to buy a new sewing machine, as her machine was damaged in the mess caused by the fire.
According to the tenants, they have been encouraged by the Offshore Development Company (ODC), which owns and runs the market to get insurance against fire and other natural disasters for their businesses, as the ODC does not cover such costs.