Fire breaks out at Gauteng school hours before first day back

(File, Gallo Images)
(File, Gallo Images)

The first day of school was off to a dramatic start at Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School in Sebokeng on Wednesday as a fire gutted the school's administration block.

According to Emfuleni Local Municipality fire and rescue spokesperson Stanley Gaba, firefighters are on the scene battling the blaze.

Gaba says a call from a community member alerting emergency services to the fire was received at around 03:00.

"There is a school, Khutlo-Tharo Secondary, that has caught fire in the admin block. I am rushing to the scene to get details. We will issue a statement on further information later," Gaba said.

Simon Nwamba, a journalist at the scene, told News24 that only the administration block was affected. Nwamba says community members gathered at the scene, witnessing the fire rage.

While it's unclear what sparked the blaze, concerned parents and community members have questioned whether they may be dealing with a case of arson.

Residents who spoke News24 said a lack of water prevented them from trying to put out the flames.

Puleng Mofokeng who lives near the school said she was woken by people screaming for help.

"They were shouting that the school was burning. I quickly called my other neighbours.

"We rushed to the school and were greeted by smoke coming from one of the offices, where the fire started."

Mofokeng said they broke a window in an attempt to gain entry and extinguish the fire, but there was no water in the school.

"All taps were dry because we have been without water in our area since last week. We called Emfuleni Emergency Services and they didn't answer our calls.

"The fire was spreading to other offices and we had to stand back helplessly until we decided to call the police who responded swiftly," she said.

Mofokeng said fire fighters in three fire engines from Emfuleni responded two hours later around 04:00 when the fire had grown bigger.

Emfuleni spokesperson Stanley Gaba confirmed that there is a lack of water supply in parts of Sebokeng and Evaton including at Khutlo-Tharo Secondary School. Gaba said the problem was caused by lack of electricity supply at a local reservoir over the weekend. He said power has since been fully restored and the reservoir is currently pumping water. Gaba promised that residents should expect water from their taps, later in the afternoon or evening.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, along with Premier David Makhura, are expected to hand over the newly-renovated Noordgesig Primary School in Diepkloof on Wednesday morning.

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