Patients evacuated as firefighters battle blaze at Joburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital
Scores of patients are being evacuated from the Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg as firefighters from across the Gauteng province battle a blaze sweeping through the facility.
The fire was first detected early on Friday morning at the hospital’s special dispensary stores. Firefighters were able to contain the fire but 12 hours later it re-ignited.
As firefighters descended on the hospital, police were also called in to secure the facility as thieves were taking advantage of the situation and began stealing cars, the Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department said.
As thick plumes of smokes funnel through the hospital, nurses and doctors began evacuating patients to other hospitals. Patients who were in wards closer to the fire were moved to other parts of the fire.
Exacerbating the drama and chaos at the hospital is the fact that parts of the third floor had caved in, preventing firefighters from reaching parts of the blaze.
The cause of the fire is not yet known.
According to eNCA, at least 800 patients are affected by the blaze and would need to be evacuated.
Speaking to eNCA this morning, Kwara Kekana the spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Health said that the evacuation of patients were still ongoing.
Some parts of the Charlotte Maxeke hospital is on fire. Patients had to be evacuated. SAPS also had to be called as thiefs were beginning to take advantage of the situation.— GPInfrastructure (@GPDID) April 16, 2021
Two cars have already been stolen. Emergency personnel onsite trying to extinguish the blaze. pic.twitter.com/ASXyusHbD0
“It has honestly been a tedious exercise you can imagine attempting to evacuate a hospital of this magnitude. Initially what we had done yesterday is that we attempted to evacuate patients from one word to another, to take patients farther away from where the fire is as a precautionary measure to prevent smoke inhalation of the patients. So we did that earlier on in the day, but then towards the late evening, we began to then evacuate the hospital itself. It has been a tedious exercise because again you can imagine the size of the facility and the kind of level of care that this facility provides,” she said.
Kekana said that patients were being moved hospital as far as Tshwane.