Raging fire destroys shoe warehouse

2014-12-03 00:00

A RAGING fire gutted a shoe ­warehouse on Loskop Road in Estcourt yesterday morning.

Witnesses said the fire, which raged all day, started in the Darul Hikmah ­Islamic School and spread to the Bata warehouse, which was completely burnt. One witness said the heat kept them at bay and they had to stand ­almost 60 metres away from the fire.

It is unclear what caused the fire but it is suspected that pupils at the facility may have left something burning in a room, which resulted in the blaze, said area councillor Breen Ally Buckus.

But one of the school founders, ­Rashid Patel, disputed this, saying the fire was on the rear side of the building. “One of the pupils said he spotted it that side, but at this stage we cannot be specific where it really started.”

Buckus said the fire started just after 9 am but was still burning after 3 pm and that the school was partly damaged. He estimated that the damage could ­escalate to over R100 million.

ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said paramedics treated two people who sustained minor burn injuries while fire services were hard at work dousing it. He said the Islamic school was evacuated and no one from the school sustained any injuries. He said two injured patients were taken to hospital for further treatment.

Estcourt fire department despatched numerous vehicles to the scene after a tanker earlier ran out of water. ­Firefighters referred queries to ­Umtshezi Municipality senior officials who visited the scene but could not be drawn to comment.

Bata warehouse spokesperson Vusi Zuke said workers saw a large fire raging at their building and quickly ran for cover. He said a full investigation would be launched to determine the cause of the fire and how much damage was caused.

A close source told The Witness that the Estcourt fire brigade appeared to have had some difficulty in trying to ­extinguish the blaze.

At 6 pm, he said the fire was still burning and that the fire brigade was “waiting for it to burn itself out”.

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