Two rooms gutted as CBD building catches fire

2012-02-15 00:00

A BUILDING used as a “rent farm” in the Pietermaritzburg CBD caught fire yesterday and two rooms were gutted.

The building is at the corner of West and Church streets. It caught fire at about 4.30 pm yesterday.

It is said a large number of people were renting there — with four or five people living in one room.

The owner of the building could face prosecution as Msunduzi Municipality building inspectors who visited it yesterday morning found it unsuitable for human habitation and condemned it.

The double-storey building, which has a car workshop underneath, has only bathroom-size windows on one side.

Inside are rooms where people are squashed together.

Brian Khanya of the Msunduzi fire department said while they believe a large number of people live in the building, there was only one person inside when it caught fire.

The tenant suffered smoke inhalation, said Khanya.

Khanya said they did not know what caused the fire: that would be determined by an investigation.

He said officials from the building inspection unit entered the building during a routine inspection visit and found it to be unsuitable for accommodation.

“This building was condemned this morning. The officials who visited recommended prosecution to our legal department.”

Khanya would not elaborate on what had prompted the officials to condemn the building, saying that would be in their report.

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