12 die in care centre blaze

2011-06-13 07:56

Twelve people died and 34 were injured in a fire at a home for the mentally challenged and the elderly in Springs, Ekurhuleni, this morning, paramedics said.

Netcare911 spokesman 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-story 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 being transported to the Pholosong State Hospital for further care.

Others who were 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 spokesman Zweli Dlamini confirmed that the scene was attended by Ekurhuleni and Gauteng emergency services, as well as Netcare911 and ER24.

He said the rescue teams split into two in dealing with the situation: “While others 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, at least 18 people died in a fire at the Pieter Wessels Home for the Aged in Nigel, Ekurhuleni.

The Struisbult Care Centre is a home for the elderly and the mentally challenged in Vogelstruisbult Road, Struisbult.

Captain Johannes Ramphora described the scene at the care centre as “terrible”.

He said the fire was reported at midnight and when the police arrived fire fighters were already working to extinguish the blaze.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

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