Cigarette suspected as cause of Steve Biko Hospital fire

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Durban – Preliminary investigations into a fire at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital have indicated that a cigarette may have been the cause, the Gauteng Department of Health said.

In a statement on Sunday, the Department said the fire broke out on Saturday night at 22:20.

“The fire broke out in an shaft at level three and smoke went up to the level eight and nine, which houses about 94 patients from different disciplines [such as] internal medicine, cardiology, paediatrics, urology, gynaecology, maternity and neonatal.

The shaft is an electrical and maintenance crawl space.  

“All patients were immediately evacuated, with an exception of the neonatal and paediatric Intensive Care Units (ICU) patients. The fire fighters extinguished the fire before any massive damage. The evacuation lasted for about an hour.”

According to the Department, the level three shaft is situated next to a cleaner's room, which also stored cleaning material that affected the fire.

“The structural damage is currently unknown, [an] assessment to verify same has commenced. Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire might have been caused by a cigarette stump that was thrown from level eight or nine. The fire department and SAPS will continue to investigate the cause accordingly.”

The Department added that no patient was affected by the smoke and are all back in their respective wards.

“Fortunately, about 13 employees who were assisted during the evacuation process were treated for smoke inhalation and discharged.”

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