Factory welder’s lucky escape

2011-10-19 00:00

A WORKER welding near an acetone drum had a lucky escape when a spark ignited a pile of scrap and caused a fire at Allan Bros in Ohrtmann Road, Willowton, yesterday morning.

A shaken Godfrey Mlaba was relieved to be unhurt.

Mlaba was welding an empty drum that contained acetone when a spark flew into the nearby rubbish of cardboard and planks. In a split second there were big flames before his eyes.

“I’m still nervous. I almost got hurt there but I’m so delighted that nothing terrible happened,” said Mlaba, who has worked for the company for 16 years.

The blaze was doused with a fire extinguisher.

The incident took place outside the building and the damage was not regarded as serious.

Allan Bros produces nails and tacks.

The financial manager, Tom Nichol, told The Witness the fire was extinguished by their trained staff, before a fire engine and parademics arrived.

“All our health and safety measures kicked in. We also did a head count to make sure that everyone was alright, just in case someone had tripped and couldn’t see them,” Nichol added.

He said the edge of the factory that caught fire will not cost much to repair because it was mostly scraps that were destroyed.

This is the first fire in the history of the company, said Nichol.

Msunduzi fire investigator Rodney Trenam said he has seen many people burned to death from chemical explosives. “It could have killed him [Mlaba].”

He explained that even if the acetone was no longer in the container, the vapour inside could ignite.

“People should understand that any empty flammable liquid drum is dangerous.

“It must be purged of vapour before it is cut,” Trenam advised.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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