The Johannesburg Emergency Management Services are investigating the cause of the fire at the Bank of Lisbon building following the deaths of three firefighters.
According to the spokesperson for Johannesburg EMS Nana Radebe, a meeting was held at the building with the South African Police Service’s forensic team on 10 September.
Radebe said the investigation will first look into where and how the fire actually started and also check why the fire had spread to other floors.
She said they will then conduct interviews with the employees at the building and then do other interviews with their firefighters who arrived first on the scene, however, that will take a while. “This is due to their medical conditions since some of them – both the employees and the firefighters – are still in hospital.
“Some are still traumatised, so, it will only depend on when they recover and are able to properly communicate with us. It’s not going to be a one-day-show it might even take two weeks to interview everyone including the workers.”
The building on Sauer Street, which houses three Gauteng government departments, health, human settlement, cooperative governance and traditional affairs, caused a stir when it caught fire on 5 September.
Firefighters tried to put out the fire but it was too overwhelming and ravaged through most parts of the building for two days.
One firefighter died falling from the top floor of the building and the other two died in hospital apparently due to smoke inhalation after they had been trapped inside the building.
About 13 government employees were also transported to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, told the media outside the building in the aftermath, as reported in the North Eastern Tribune Week Ending 14 September, that the building did not meet the occupancy requirements.
He said, “We commissioned an assessment report for the building and according to the report, the health and safety levels of occupancy stands at 21 per cent as per the requirements.”
He then urged people not to speculate about what actually caused the fire but to wait for a full investigation.
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