Reward Offered in Suspected Arson

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The National Heritage Council of Namibia (NHC) is offering a N$5 000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest of culprits that set fire to its offices in Khorixas. A mysterious fire burnt down visitor facilities at the Petrified Forest National Monument, about 37 km west of Khorixas in the Kunene Region, causing damage worth N$300 000. Amongst the facilities that burnt down are a community crafts centre, an administrative block and a kiosk. Director of the NHC, Karl Aribeb says there was strong suspicion that the incident, which happened in the early hours of Monday, January 16, was arson. He said they have ruled out electrical short circuits to be the cause of the fire because it was not electrified. In addition, Aribeb said the members of staff were off duty and do not cook on the premises. “There is a possibility of arson,” he stressed. Some of the items that burnt down in the process were crafts, financial documents, receipt books, attendance registers for the workers and some of the office furniture. Money was not among the burnt items because it is kept in a fire-proof safe. Although this has happened, the office is still able to receive visitors, as the fossils themselves have not been affected. The Petrified Forest National Monument is a concentration of fossilised wood that look like rocks. It is a unique site and the largest concentration of fossilised wood in the whole world. It covers an area of 20 hectares.