Hardware store in city gutted

2014-02-12 00:00

PIETERMARITZ Street had to be sealed off and was abuzz with emergency personnel and law enforcement agencies yesterday as Siyaya Hardware Store was gutted by a fire.

Members of the public were seen being berated by police for trying to cross the barrier tape to get a closer view of what had happened.

A lucky survivor and the co-owner of the store, Saloshni Chetty, said she was in the office upstairs when she heard people screaming and saw smoke rising. “I was panicking and could not see a thing because of the smoke. It happened so fast and I did not know where to run to,” she said.

Chetty added, “Although I inhaled smoke as I was running down, I thank God I was lucky to survive and that nobody was injured.”

She said this was definitely not a good way to start the year because she will have to rebuild.

“This is terrible. I guess that is why they say, to be in business is risky,” Chetty said, looking at their gutted hardware shop.

Msunduzi Municipality fire investigator Rodney Trenam said the initial findings indicate that the fire started behind the counter where they store thinners and glues, which might have spread the fire.

“We have not been able to determine the cause of the fire, but we will also look at the surveillance cameras to see what may have started it,” said Trenam.

Chetty confirmed that members of the public performed some “street justice” when one person tried to steal from the store when the fire broke out.

She said members of the public chased him and assaulted him.

Late last year, workers at Siyaya Cash and Carry blocked Pietermaritz Street, demanding that municipal officials re-open the shop after the municipality closed it because council believed they were not complying with fire safety standards.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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