Emergency services battling fire at Pretoria substation

2019-12-10 08:21
Firefighter. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

Firefighter. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

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A fire broke out at the Kwagga substation in Pretoria West on Tuesday morning. 

According to Jacaranda FM, Tshwane Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are battling the blaze that broke out at 03:00. 

EMS spokesperson Charles Mabaso told Jacaranda FM firefighters were dispatched from around 03:30 and have been fighting the blaze since then. 

Mabaso told the station that the situation had been complicated by the fact that now there was oil leaking from the substation itself.

He said firefighters were using foam to suppress the fire.

The City of Tshwane tweeted that areas affected by the outage include Rosslyn, Atteridgeville, Laudium, Sunnyside, Parktown Mayville Wonderboom,  Sinoville, Bon Accord, Magalieskruin, Soshanguve and Pretoria North.

The City said its telephone lines were down due to the Kwagga substation outage and asked that residents use email for any reporting.

The fire is yet another blow for South Africans amid ubiquitous load shedding caused by flooding and infrastructure problems at electricity utility Eskom. 

On Saturday, Bryanston and the surrounding areas in Johannesburg experienced power outages following an explosion at Brynorth substation.

On Monday evening, Eskom instituted stage 6 load shedding for the first time at, leaving some municipalities scrambling to publish schedules for when the rotational power cuts would take place, Fin24 reported. 

At 22:00, Eskom announced that it was reverting back to stage 4 from stage 6. The stage 4 power cuts would continue until 23:00 on Tuesday, it said. 

Flooding a 'major factor'

Speaking to Fin24 on Monday evening, Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae said flooding was a major factor in the sudden shift to stage 6 power cuts. There have been heavy rains in large parts of South Africa, including flash floods in Centurion and Mamelodi that resulted in evacuations. There have also been floods in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng; various parts of the Free State; and the North West Province.

Water was reaching "places water is not supposed to be", Mothae said on Monday evening. This was compounded the ongoing problem of ageing plants that had been poorly maintained over many years, she told Fin24.

In a separate statement, Eskom said flooding at both the Kriel mine in Mpumalanga and the Kriel power station meant no coal deliveries could take place via conveyor belt. Abnormally high rain at Camden power station, also in Mpumalanga, led to flooding which impacted critical infrastructure.

PICS: Explosion at Joburg's Brynorth substation

At Medupi, meanwhile, the power supply to incline conveyors feeding coal to silos failed, causing coal-feeding problems and the loss of a number of generating units. "Our technical teams have been hard at work and we are starting to see recovery at Medupi. The incline conveyor belts are now feeding coal into the station to a limited degree," said Eskom.

According to Mothae, load shedding can be expected for the rest of the week. But there may be less pressure on the grid next week when many businesses close, reducing demand. There was a low likelihood of load shedding over the festive season, she said, but it could never be guaranteed that there would be no rotational power cuts.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, meanwhile, told eNCA on Monday evening that he too has been experiencing load shedding at his private residence.

Gordhan said Eskom was in a "manageable crisis". "We are here to apologise to the country to admit we have problems, that we have to actually deal with and not be shy about admitting them," he said.

- Compiled by Riaan Grobler

Read more on:    eskom  |  pretoria  |  load shedding  |  fire  |  electricity blackouts
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