Back to business after big shop fire

2008-12-18 00:00

After a week of confusion over what caused the inferno that burnt down four factories on Manchester Road, firemen have decided to call in Pretoria fire specialists to assist in their investigations.

“We still haven’t determined what the exact cause of the fire was … so we’ve called the Pretoria SAPS [South Africa Police Service] to help us further investigate,” said Essack Khan of the Msunduzi fire, rescue and disaster management station.

He said that they approached the Pretoria branch because it has the necessary, “specialised equipment to determine what started the fire”.

“We want to wrap things up as soon as possible so that we can compile a report … the owner has also been pushing for answers for insurance purposes. So it is important that we get answers,” he said.

Last week, The Witness reported that four factories and several businesses were ravaged by an enormous fire on Manchester Road at around 4 pm. It took the fire station until the early hours of the next morning to extinguish it.

Although fire officials could not determine the cause, they were able to confirm that the fire started in a factory that manufactures cosmetic products and stocked flammable liquids like benzene, paraffin and thinners.

Meanwhile, many of the affected businesses have re-opened. However, the situation is not yet “business as usual”.

“I’m operating outside for now,” said Kwaefundsi owner, Humayon Bayat.

Bayat said that he does not have the manpower necessary to clean up his clothing store at present. He said the fire damaged most of his stock.

Another clothing shop owner, who did not want to be named, said that even though her shop wasn’t affected by the fire directly, smoke and water damaged a lot of her stock.

In Manchester Road, one will find stands selling electronics, shoes and clothes outside the shops that once housed these goods.

Despite not having calculated her loss, the shop owner said that she has re-opened, because a “business doesn’t just stop”.

“I opened up and let [the shop] dry and let the smell of the smoke come out … I’ve been open since Monday.”

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