/ 13 June 2011

Twelve dead in Springs care centre blaze

Twelve people died and 34 have been injured in a fire at a home for the mentally challenged and the elderly in Springs, early on Monday morning, paramedics said.

Netcare 911 spokesperson Jeffrey Wicks said a total of 12 people had died in the fire at Struisbult Care Centre.

Earlier reports indicated that the toll was as high as 14, but the number was later corrected to 12.

Thirty-four people were injured in the blaze, one woman critically, when the fire spread through the single-storey building of the Struisbult Care Centre.

The Ekurhuleni metro fire department pulled the inhabitants from the burning building.

The woman who was critically injured was intubated and placed on a manual ventilator at the scene before she was transported to the Pholosong State Hospital for further care.

The remaining injured were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene before being taken to various medical facilities.

Wicks said the fire fighters’ efforts were “praiseworthy”.

By 2am fire fighters had the fire under control and were damping down the smouldering building.

Ekurhuleni municipal spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said that the scene was attended by Ekurhuleni and Gauteng emergency services, as well as Netcare 911 and ER24.

He said the rescue teams split into two teams in dealing with the situation: “While some were fighting the blaze, other members were evacuating residents.”

He said it was not known how many people were in the facility when the fire broke out.

In August last year, at least 18 people died in fire at the Pieter Wessels home for the aged in Nigel, south Gauteng.

Captain Johannes Ramphora described the scene at the care centre as “terrible”, saying the fire was reported at midnight and when police arrived fire fighters were already working to extinguish the blaze.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. — Sapa