Firefighters assess damage at still-burning chemical factory

2008-12-12 00:00

A day after a massive fire engulfed several factories and caused damage to many of the surrounding businesses in Manchester Road, firemen remained on standby, putting out the odd flare-up here and there.

“There are still hotspots that we’ve been extinguishing,” said Essack Khan, the officer at the forefront of the firefighting operation on Thursday night.

“Because there were flammable liquids that spilt during the fire … little fires re-ignite every now and then. We’re actually checking the scene out again as we speak because we received a report of smoke coming from the building,” said Khan.

Yesterday, The Witness reported that four factories and several businesses were ravaged by the inferno on Manchester Road at around 4 pm.

The Msunduzi fire, rescue and disaster management station reported to the scene with haste and were able to stop the fire from spreading further — but it wasn’t until the “early hours of yesterday morning” that it was safe for them to call it a night.

Although the cause of the fire is still unclear, fire officials can confirm that the fire started in a factory that manufactures cosmetic products. The factory stocked flammable liquids like benzene, paraffin and thinners.

“Everything is destroyed,” Khan said. “We’ve surveyed the site and found extensive damage to the affected buildings.”

When The Witness revisited the scene yesterday morning, shop owners and their staff were hard at work trying to clean up the thick muck left by the ash and water. In the flooded, roofless factories, stood the odd heap of debris still glowing red despite the heavy rainfall earlier in the day.

Khan said that there is little to indicate foul play, but investigations are still under way.

“We’ll know by next week exactly what happened,” he added.

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