Workers lose goods in fire at Transnet building

2010-08-06 00:00

A BIG fire gutted a Transnet building along with the belongings of employees, which they had kept inside, in Pietermaritzburg yesterday morning.

Msunduzi Municipality firefighters battled hard to put out the fire, and only succeeded after everything inside the building had been reduced to ashes.

Chief firefighter Billy Paton was furious at the fact that firefighters had to drive around the Prestbury area looking for water to continue doing their job. He said a company like Transnet should have installed fire hydrants on its property.

“We have looked everywhere inside the facility for fire hydrants, but there were none. Our fire engine had to drive around looking for water.

“We have to investigate if it is legal for a company not to have fire hydrants in its buildings. We have to look at the municipality’s bylaws. We also have to speak to Spoornet [Transnet] about this, because there is a lot of timber work going on here, which makes it dangerous in case of fire” said Paton.

The fire, the source of which is unkwnown, started at 11.30.

Transnet rents out the damaged building to Lumberman Timber Wholesalers, which was using it for its employees to store their belongings and use during tea and lunch breaks.

The workers said they tried unsuccessfully to put the fire out. About 20 of them had their clothes, money and cellphones burnt to ashes.

Lumberman Timber Wholesalers manager Anthony Paul said the fire started as workers were busy working in a workshop, which is behind the damaged building.

Workers said they have each lost cash during the fire. Tucky Ngcobo said she had R2 000, which she intended use to pay her bills after work.

“All my bank cards and clothes were burnt,” Ngcobo said.

Transnet spokesperson John Dluldu said Transnet was investigating the incident.

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