Johannesburg - A raging inferno has gutted about 200 vehicles including trailers, motorbikes, trucks and buses after engulfing Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department’s vehicle pound.
A veld fire started outside the premises. Fanned by the wind, it was worsened by the dry grass. It spread to the yard, where fuel in the vehicles sparked a massive blaze, spokesman Inspector Kobedi Mokheseng said.
Some of the owners whose vehicles had been impounded at the weekend arrived to collect them only to find smouldering wrecks.
“People have been coming here, demanding their cars. After finding out that their cars had been destroyed in the fire, they said they were going to consult their lawyers,” Mokheseng said.
It is not known how the fire started. Mokheseng said a security guard stationed at the pound had been patrolling when she saw a small fire outside the yard at about 1.30pm on Monday.
The grass in the veld surrounding the pound is long, so the guard called the fire brigade, Mokheseng said.
Fanned by the wind, the flames leapt through the openings in the concrete palisade around the pound. By the time the fire brigade arrived for what they thought was a small veld fire, the flames had ignited the petrol tanks in the vehicles.
The cars had been impounded for various offences including unroadworthiness.
Others had been taken to the pound after the drivers had been arrested for drunk driving and detained.
One car, a BMW X5, was found stripped and dumped on the side of the road in Boksburg on Saturday night. The doors, radio, boot and bonnet had been stolen. Police said it had not been reported missing and they did not know who owned it. It was also gutted.
Mokheseng said they would approach the nearby factories and ask for CCTV footage from Monday to determine the cause of the fire.
“Management will decide after the investigations whether the owners must be compensated or not,” he said.
This was not the first fire at the pound. Last June, a motorist who arrived to collect his car started a fire by mistake that destroyed 64 vehicles. He had apparently been involved in an accident and his car had been taken to the pound.undefined
After his release from hospital, he went to collect his car and had brought some equipment to kickstart it. In the process, a fire started and burnt other cars including his.
A case of malicious damage to property was opened and the case is pending.