Henties Spar destroyed by fire

Damage estimated at N$25 million
A fire destroyed the Henties Bay Spar supermarket on Saturday night with the estimated damages caused calculated at N$25 million.
Adam Hartman
A fire destroyed Henties Bay Spar supermarket on Saturday evening, causing about N$25 million in damages.

Johan Aggenbach, the owner of Spar, told Erongo 24/7 that someone alerted him of the smoke and he and his son ran out to inspect – they live across the road from their business. The smoke seemed to come from the take-away area. “We entered the shop and saw the flames. I immediately grabbed a fire extinguisher and emptied it, but when I wanted to use the next extinguisher, the smoke was too much and my son said we need to get out of there,” he recalled.

“It is an old building though, so it’s difficult to say what could have gone wrong,” Johan said. He praised the fire brigades and emergency services for their efforts in containing the fire just to the Spar shop and added that d that investigations are underway. "I do not want to speculate on what may have caused the fire." According to him, the take-away section stops operating at 14:00 on Saturdays (the fire started six hours later).

"Our building may have been burnt down, but we will continue our business, and with the support of our staff and community - even from far beyond our borders, we will stand up again," said co-owner Dalene Aggenbach.

Erongo 24/7 also understands that the residents of the Lions frail care facility, which is situated nearby, were also evacuated, just in case, although, according to Gert Grobler of Henties Bay Lions, there was no threat to the centre.

Miraculously and contrary to social media reports, the fire did not involve adjacent shops – even though Spar is the corner shop in a complex of adjacent stores. Two people were also injured during the incident.

A report from LifeLink Emergency Rescue Services at Henties Bay, which also attended to the scene, said that a “fully developed and rapidly moving fire” raged inside the shop. A decision was taken to immediately seek support from the Swakopmund Fire brigade, and soon the fire was ‘attacked’ from both sides, by the Swakopmund and Henties Bay fire brigades respectively. Henties Bay municipal water services diverted extra water to the main supply at the incident site. Other emergency services also arrived on the scene.

According to the report a member of the public climbed onto a roof despite explicit instructions not to. As a result, he fell through the roof, sustaining serious injuries. He was rescued by a member of the Henties Bay fire brigade and treated and transported to hospital in Swakopmund,” the report stated. The report further stated that the fire was contained only to the Spar, with the adjacent coffee shop being preserved, but heavily damaged. No other shops were damaged. A firefighter also sustained an injury when he was struck by a falling object and was taken to hospital.

Bystanders apparently reported that there were suspects allegedly attempting to use the chaos as an opportunity to break into the other shops, but they were prevented from doing so by security officers.

A police incident report issued by Erongo crime investigations coordinator Erastus Iikuyu on Sunday stated the fire allegedly started around 20:15 at the take-away kitchen before spreading throughout the shop. The flames razed everything inside. Photos show that the inside of the well-known community supermarket that was always busy over the last 26 years since its establishment, is now a shell containing ashes.

According to Iikuyu, the fire was finally extinguished on Sunday, around 03:30, by Swakopmund and Henties Bay firefighters. “One firefighter sustained slight injuries, and another civilian, a young man, sustained injuries after he fell from the shop building while he was trying to assist the firefighters,” said Iikuyu, adding that the latter was taken to a private hospital at Swakopmund.

The cause of the fire was still unknown at the time of print.