Nottingham Road train station allegedly set alight by ‘known suspect’

2018-02-22 13:55
Nottingham Road railway station on fire on Wednesday afternoon.

Nottingham Road railway station on fire on Wednesday afternoon. (James Martin)

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Police are on the hunt for a “known suspect” who allegedly set the iconic Nottingham Road train station on fire on Wednesday afternoon.

The station, which is Transnet property, was gutted by the fire. It had been unused for about a decade, said Transnet spokesperson Mike Asefovitz.

He said Transnet would investigate the cause of the incident and added that the property had been fenced off because of a problem with vagrants in the past.

Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele said the property was allegedly set alight by a suspect who had fled the scene. Police were searching for the suspect.

“The motive is unknown at this stage. A case of arson was opened at Nottingham Road police station,” she said.

Howick fire department station commander David Ngcobo told The Witness from the scene late on Wednesday afternoon that firefighters would leave the building to burn as spraying it with water could cause a bigger problem.

“There are trains passing by on one side, and on the other side there are trees, so spraying water could make the fire rage and these things can catch alight.”

He said, however, that the fire was contained, and that the property was empty at the time.

James Martin, a Nottingham Road farmer, said the incident was a blow for the community.

“I was driving into Nottingham Road from the N3 highway and saw huge pillars of smoke and I thought a hotel may be on fire. I passed the station and saw a crowd gathering.”

He added: “It’s terrible. People were saying they used to catch that train years ago as a child. It hadn’t been used for so long and the wood [it was built of] was old and dry and so it must have burned very easily.”

DA councillor for the area, Moira Grueneberg, said it was a sad day seeing a historic building reduced to rubble.

Ros Devereaux, of heritage organisation Amafa, said it was one of the oldest train stations in KwaZulu-Natal, and had been built during the colonial era.

“It has been disused for some time and the inaccessibility has made it difficult for Transnet to find a tenant for the building.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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