Office heater believed to be behind Bara hospital blaze

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The fire at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg comes amid skyrocketing Covid-19 cases in the country . Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
The fire at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg comes amid skyrocketing Covid-19 cases in the country . Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

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A fire at Africa’s biggest hospital is believed to have started as a result of a heater in a back office.

The blaze at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital has been contained, Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed saying that the “small fire, broke out at the hospital’s laundry area” on Sunday.

“The office included a small laundry storeroom, used to store laundry which a portion was unfortunately burnt,” Kekana confirmed.

We can confirm now that by next week the oncology side at Charlotte Maxeke will be handed over to start operating, which is phase 1.
acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

While the fire comes amid skyrocketing Covid-19 cases in the country - with Gauteng driving the third wave with 545 262 confirmed cases and 12 079 deaths to date, according to the national health department’s data from Saturday, June 19 - Kekana outlined that “the fire had not impacted clinical services in the facility”.

“From eye observation, a heater was found in the back office where the fire is assumed to have started, but further investigations will be done by the relevant authorities on the actual cause of the fire,” the spokesperson added.

In April a blaze engulfed a section of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital for two days. This after a fire safety audit at the hospital was signed off and in March a hospital fire and safety team met, according to the Gauteng health department.

READ: In Focus: What the Charlotte Maxeke fire tells us about health and safety in Gauteng hospitals

A decision was subsequently made to shut down the hospital for the next seven days. Two months later and the hospital remains closed with sub-speciality treatment disrupts.

The devastating Charlotte Maxeke Hospital fire broke out after a similar blaze at Carletonville Hospital on the West Rand in February.

In that blaze, an estimated R23 million worth of personal protective equipment and other medical items were destroyed.

At the time, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA said it hoped it was mere coincidence that fires had broken out in the storerooms of both the Carletonville and Charlotte Maxeke hospitals and neither incidence was as a result of arson.

READ: Was fire at Charlotte Maxeke hospital foul-play?

“We hope the outcomes and recommendations of the investigation are implemented without any delay,” the organisation said.

During a media briefing on Friday, on government’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19, acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane confirmed that the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg, would reopen in phases, starting this week.

READ: Subspeciality care disrupted following devastating Charlotte Maxeke Hospital fire

The oncology ward would be the first to resume operations.

She said: “We can confirm now that by next week the oncology side at Charlotte Maxeke will be handed over to start operating, which is phase 1. And once we have a date for phase 2, we will announce it.

“The other issue that was a challenge was around the fire doors that needed to be manufactured and that took longer because without those the certificates would have taken longer to be issued.”

But the Gauteng infrastructure development confirmed to City Press later on Friday that the hospital will likely only reopen on July 5.


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Palesa Dlamini 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
palesa.dlamini@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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