Property worth millions of rand was destroyed when a fire gutted a huge warehouse of the American Embassy in Silvertondale on Tuesday night.
By late on Tuesday night, the cause of the fire had not yet been established, with Tshwane Emergency Services spokesman Johan Pieterse saying investigations to establish the fire were going to start on Wednesday morning.
About 30 firemen and seven fire tenders, including two hydraulic platforms and four water pumpers, fought the inferno, which at times seemed as if it was being fanned by the powerful jets of water directed at it.
Huge water hoses – almost 15cm in diameter – were used to try to put out the flames.
Two firemen fighting the blaze from the hydraulic platforms had to brave thick smoke which at times totally engulfed the surrounding sky.
Some onlookers could be heard praising the firefighters for their bravery and saying “this is not a job for sissies”.
Pieterse said the warehouse was believed to have stored furniture and other appliances for use in the homes of all American Embassy staff.
“There was furniture and appliances such as fridges, stoves and washing machines, which together with the building – the roof of which has been destroyed – are worth millions,” Pieterse said.
No one was hurt in the fire which is believed to have started at about 7.20pm and was still raging by about 9pm.
Pieterse said emergency personnel from five fire stations across the city had battled the inferno which was discovered by security guards who immediately phoned for help.
Pieterse said the first fire tender was at the scene in about 10 minutes.
“When we arrived at the scene, the fire was already intense, and was spreading very fast,” said Pieterse.
The firefighters had to use specialised equipment to cut through the metal security bars to get access to the building.
Members of the American Embassy who were at the scene were too distraught to speak to Pretoria News.