Fire-damaged Colonial Building to be rebuilt by September

2010-04-29 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S landmark Colonial Building is under reconstruction to restore parts that were damaged by the fire that began on the roof of the historic structure in June last year.

The 109-year-old building caught fire after a workman’s blowtorch ignited bitumen while he was working on the roof, The Witness reported.

The roof and its several domes collapsed during the fire, destroying the interior of the building and its first and second floors.

The Msunduzi Municipality fire department was largely blamed for failing to quell the flames in time.

It was reported that it took fire fighters almost two hours to start fighting the fire upon their speedy arrival, due to their “below standard” equipment.

GVK-Siya Zama Building Contractors, the company contracted to repair the damage, has subcontracted Midlands Industrial to rebuild the domes atop the building.

The domes will take about two weeks to complete, said Andre van Aswegen of Midlands Industrial.

They were previously constructed of wood, but they will be assembled using steel this time, he added.

Upon completion in September, the building will house the offices of the master of the high court.

A source close to the construction disclosed that the restoration will cost several million rands.

Pietermaritzburg Tourism director Melanie Veness, who expressed dismay at the destruction of the tourist attraction, said: “It was very disappointing for tourists who came to Pietermaritzburg to witness the whole historical package, only to find that one of the major attractions was damaged.”

Now that the building will be restored “we are absolutely thrilled; it’s fantastic,” Veness told The Witness.

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