Fatal Johannesburg building fire reignites

(Renata Larroyd/M&G)

(Renata Larroyd/M&G)

A fire at a central Johannesburg building, which claimed the lives of three firefighters, has reignited, the city’s emergency services said on Thursday morning.

READ MORE: #JoburgFire: Workers say building was a ‘house of horrors’

“At this moment, the fire has reignited from the 23rd floor to the 16th floor,” said spokesperson Nana Radebe.

“It’s not flames, it’s just smouldering.”

Three fire engines and 20 firefighters were on scene.

The building is shared by the departments of health, human settlements and cooperative governance.

The fire first broke out on the 23rd floor on Wednesday morning.

Safety regulations

A firefighter fell to his death while battling the blaze and two firefighters died after they became trapped in the building.

All government officials were evacuated, while 13 employees and eight firefighters were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

Gauteng MEC for infrastructure development Jacob Mamabolo revealed on Wednesday that the building was only 21% compliant with safety regulations.

“The building simply does not comply with safety and health regulations. Government officials will stay at home until there is a safe building to relocate them to,” Mamabolo said at a media briefing at the scene on Wednesday afternoon.

READ MORE: #JoburgFire: ‘This is what we warned would happen’ – unions

Investigation

Officials would investigate the cause of the blaze, with some people suspecting that an electrical fault could be to blame.

“At this point, we are not aware of what the causes of the fire are. The City of Johannesburg, working together with us, will conduct an investigation and I would like to appeal to everybody to not speculate,” Mamabolo said.

The National Education and Health Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) told media that several shop stewards were dismissed after they raised concerns about the building in 2014.

“As a union we have been consistently raising concerns about the defects in the building since 2014,” Nehawu Gauteng provincial secretary Tshepo Mokheranyana said.

Some of the staff alleged that this was the third fire in a year.
— News24

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