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Probe into three-day Durban fire under way

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Durban – The Department of Labour has issued an order prohibiting any work activity at the site of the recent South Coast Road fire until further notice.

Investigators are compiling information into what led to the industrial blaze as they continue their inquiry into the incident, which took place in late March.

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Fire fighters try to put out the South Coast Road fire that has been raging for days. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo

The fire burned for three days.

It released copious amounts of black smoke and other possibly harmful pollutants and required hundreds of firefighters to get it under control.

Images and videos of the blaze went viral as a massive pall of black smoke hung over the city and northern suburbs.

At the time, questions around fire safety emerged as it appeared that the water supply had not been available when the building went up in flames.

The Mercury reported that the closest fire hydrants were apparently dry and the fire suppression system in the warehouse may not have been up to scratch.

Key sources at the scene of the blaze said a valve on the main booster pump was turned off on the day of the fire, possibly because renovations to the roof were being done. “The entire warehouse has been declared a prohibited area."

“However, there is a possibility that the prohibition notice will be amended once all the requested documents such as the structural engineers report, the fixed fire protection system, certificate of compliance and risk assessments are submitted for the area that has been marginally damaged by the fire,” said the department in response to The Mercury’s queries.

The department, the statement said, would focus on all aspects of health and safety in terms of the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act and regulations.

“This incident is regarded as a major incident in terms of section 24 of the OHS Act and a full forensic investigation is under way.”

The department’s senior inspector and forensic investigator Lennie Samuel is investigating the matter.

When asked when the preliminary report into the incident would be available, the department said: “Evidence is being gathered. We are not at the stage where we can effect blame or test evidence with compliance or non-compliance with legislation.”

The Mercury

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