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Durban's fire department and emergency services battle the China Xinhua Distribution Centre fire for the third day in a row

Onlookers watched as fire broke out at Chine Emporium on Friday Picture: Theo Jeptha/ African News Agency (ANA)

Onlookers watched as fire broke out at Chine Emporium on Friday Picture: Theo Jeptha/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 24, 2022

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DURBAN’S fire department and emergency services said being unable to reach the seat of the fire was the reason for the delay in extinguishing it for the past three days.

This comes as the China Xinhua Distribution Centre on Dr Pixley KaSeme Street, which was still well alight on Sunday after it was gutted by fire on Friday morning.

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The department’s regional commander Zibuse Ngcece said the incident was reported around 11am on Friday. Ngcece said the main challenge was that the firefighters could not gain access inside the “collapsing building” to find the source of the fire.

“The firefighters have been outside the building for more than 24 hours since Friday. We have enough human capital and the equipment to (stave) off the fire, however, we cannot risk the lives of our people because the building is collapsing.

The Durban central China Mall is still in flames and the metro firefighters has been working tirelessly trying to put off the fire. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African news Agency (ANA)

“On normal bases, we start inside the building and find the source of the fire. At this point we don’t even know what is the cause and where it started,” said Ngcece.

This has affected a number of areas including Durban Central, Berea, Musgrave, Congela, Glenwood, Wilsons Wharf and Maydon Wharf.

Meanwhile, the eThekwini Municipality has urged the public to take precautions from possible harmful smoke.

The city’s spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said it was estimated that the smoke may last for a few days adding that officials would be on site until the situation was resolved.

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“Operations to control the fire are under way and city’s Fire and Emergency Services remain on site. With smoke still emanating from the building, the residents are advised to close their windows and doors and to put wet cloths over ventilators. When it clears residents are advised to air out their homes,” said Mayisela.

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