Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

#JoburgFire: Neighbouring buildings asked to evaluate

Buildings surrounding the Bank of Lisbon building have been asked to evacuate, MEC for infrastructure development and provincial head of disaster management, Jacob Mamabolo told the media on Thursday.

“The fire is still on and we have asked for reinforcements from the City of Ekurhuleni and Tshwane,” said Mamabolo.

“We have asked surrounding buildings to be evacuated as a precautionary measure.”

On Wednesday afternoon, a fire started on the 23rd floor of the building which houses three government departments: health, human settlements and co-operative governance

Three firefighters were killed fighting the flames – one fell to his death, while two others died after reportedly running out of oxygen – while evacuating 1 115 staff members.

Mamabolo said that investigations are under way to determine the cause of the blaze and the death of the three firefighters.

“The tragic loss of life of the firefighters is a matter that we believe there should be a separate investigation on that issue so families can find closure,” said Mamabolo.

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

“We also believe there should be a separate investigation on the real cause of the fire,” he added. “If anyone is found to have acted outside requirements of policy we will take prompt action without fear or favour.”

Thirteen employees were sent to Milpark hospital on Wednesday night to be treated for smoke inhalation.

According to Mamabolo, only five people have not been released from Milpark hospital: four firefighters and one employee, but said they were not in critical condition.

He added that all employees were evacuated safely yesterday.

Building safety, 21% compliance

Mamabolo said that employees from the Lisbon building were in the process of being moved to alternate work spaces. He also revealed that the department of infrastructure development had received a report on August 27 which they had requested last year to evaluate the state of eight government-owned buildings. According to the Mamabolo the report stated that the Lisbon building was only 21% compliant with health and safety standards.

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

The department had reportedly begun the relocation process in March and efforts to seek alternative accommodation were commenced from July 22.

“The process of moving officials from this building had already begun; Cogta and Human Settlements were the departments who were in the levels that department of Labour had found issue with. We had begun process of finding an alternative building.”

In an earlier press briefing on Thursday morning, Mamabolo said that safety compliance did not necessarily play a role in Wednesday’s fire, EWN reported. Arson was not ruled out as a possibility.

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

More top stories

R350 social relief grant not enough to live on

Nearly half of the population in South Africa — one of the most unequal countries in the world — is considered chronically poor.

US fashion contaminates Africa’s water

Untreated effluent from textile factories in in Lesotho, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius and Madagascar pours into rivers, contaminating the water

Deep seabed mining a threat to Africa’s coral reefs

The deep oceans are a fragile final frontier, largely unknown and untouched but mining companies and governments — other than those in Africa — are eying its mineral riches

Komodo dragon faces extinction

The world’s largest monitor lizard has moved up the red list for threatened species, with fewer than 4 000 of the species left
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×