Joburg factory fire contained, fears that building will collapse

2011-04-22 14:27

Fire-fighters have contained a blaze that broke out at a bedding factory in Booysens, south of Johannesburg today, however there were still concerns over the 30-metre high building collapsing.

Divisional Chief of Johannesburg emergency services, JJ Viljoen, said the fire broke out in the basement.

“The heat emanating from the basement was so intense, that it caused the upper floor to crack. Therefore, it could collapse at any time,” he said.

“We also cannot use water because of the weight it carries. It might cause it to collapse.”

Foam was pumped into the building to extinguish flames.

About 95% of the fire had been put out.

Emergency services spokesperson Percy Morokane said at the scene that the materials stored at the factory were also highly flammable.

The factory, Gordon Prince, situated on Koster Street, manufactures bedding material such as duvets, blankets and comforters.

Workers, although warned not to, were jostling among fire-fighters, in a bid to salvage blankets and the fibre used in manufacturing them.

One worker who did not want to be named, said they were instructed by their employer to do so.

The employees loaded blankets onto trucks lining the street.

Security guard at the factory, Martin Griessel, said the fire broke out at 9am.

“I was in the bathroom, when the light suddenly went off. I went out to investigate and saw smoke coming from the basement,” he said.

Griessel said there were about 150 people including the employees and the owners at the time.

“I shouted, calling them to go out because the building was on fire. I then called the fire brigade.”

Police were not yet on the scene.

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