Caution urged after shack and hospital fires

Jenni Evans, News24

Johannesburg - Emergency services urged caution with heaters and open flames during the cold snap after a man died in a shack fire, and a fire at Helen Joseph Hospital damaged part of its administrative wing.

Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi said an unattended heater caused a fire in a locker room and a store room at the hospital early on Sunday. Staff in the area were evacuated and the fire was quickly put out, said Mulaudzi.

It was not necessary to evacuate patients.

“It is very important to look after heaters,” Mulaudzi, imploring people not to let their guard down as they warm their homes during the chilly months.

Democratic Alliance Gauteng MPL Jack Bloom expressed concern over fire prevention at hospitals in the province, noting a fire in May at the Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg.

In that incident, around R7m in supplies was lost when a fire started in the hospital's storage facilities.

“Fortunately, in both cases the fire did not affect wards with patients, but we might not be so lucky next time,” said Bloom.

He called for a fire inspection audit at all Gauteng hospitals to ensure that fire controls are adequate.

Mulaudzi said in Vlakfontein, south of Johannesburg, one man died in a fire in his shack, also on Sunday morning, and stressed the importance of looking after candles and paraffin.