Taxi inferno causes mayhem on the N3, preventing fire engine from reaching the scene

2013-10-03 00:00

CHAOS reigned on the N3 at Townhill yesterday when gridlocked traffic prevented a fire engine from reaching a burning taxi.

Frustrated staff in the fire engine rushing to the scene got stuck in the lengthy traffic jam caused by the inferno on the N3 northbound on Townhill.

Another fire crew had to be dispatched and was forced to drive on the southbound lane facing oncoming traffic to get to the scene.

Fire department senior divisional officer Essack Khan urged drivers to make way for firefighters using their sirens as it meant they were responding to an emergency.

Zinhle Mngomezulu of the Road Traffic Inspectorate said the fire caused a two-hour traffic jam as no vehicle could pass the scene due to the intensity of the flames.

“We believe that the fire started at about lunch time and it blocked the traffic flow on the N3 northbound after Peter Brown Drive.”

Traffic was also backed up in Old How­ick Road and at the Montgomery Drive traffic circle.

The minibus taxi was transporting 21 passengers from the city to the Ncwadi area near Bulwer.

The driver, Mthokozisi Dlamini, told The Witness that the taxi was in good condition.

“The engine cut out while I was driving in the fast lane and I started it again … but the only thing that came out was big smoke from the bonnet.

“We alerted the passengers and we all jumped out.” The conductor of the taxi, Mlungisi Ngubane, said they tried their best to extinguish the fire.

“We used the fire extinguisher that was in the taxi, but the fire was big. Passing motorists also offered us their fire extinguishers, but we did not win the fight; the taxi was in ashes.”

The owner of the taxi, Zwelinjani Gumede, said the taxi was at the dealership last Monday being repaired, and was only returned on Saturday.

“This surprised me as it was just returning from the dealer, as it had no power.”

In another incident later in the evening rush hour, a truck was reportedly alight on the New England Road off-ramp on the northbound lane. Fire crews responded to the fire.

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