Pietermaritzburg - The MEC for health in KwaZulu-Natal, Nomagugu Simelane, in a statement on Tuesday commended the efforts and actions of security officers and staff at Durban's Addington Hospital who safely evacuated 84 patients, including 25 infants, during a fire that erupted about 8am.
Hospital management said that the fire broke out in the fire escape area on the 7th floor, just after 8am. Nurses immediately alerted security personnel who leapt into action to douse the fire using extinguishers.
"By then, strong clouds of smoke had begun spreading to the hospital’s wards on the 9th and 13th floors," the statement said.
While fire fighters from eThekwini Municipality had been summoned for help and were on their way to the scene, hospital management started implementing the facility’s emergency evacuation plan.
No fewer than 25 mothers and their newborn babies, nine children in the children’s ward on the 13th floor, and 20 patients who needed gynaecology services, had to be evacuated due to the strong smoke.
There were no injuries during the incident. The cause of the fire is unknown and will be determined by the eThekwini Fire and Emergencies Department.
Reacting to the fire incident, Simelane-Zulu said: “We would like to thank our security personnel, hospital staff and management, as well as eThekwini Fire and Emergency services for the manner in which they responded to this emergency.
"We are grateful for their collective efforts in saving lives, and that damage to property is minimal.
“We will follow-up on the progress of investigation, and if there is any evidence of foul play, the law will have to take its course,” the MEC said
She added that challenges in the functioning of the lifts at Addington Hospital were being dealt with. This morning's fire took place near a lift used for refuse removal, which was not operational at the time, and was due for repairs.
The lift has been damaged further by seepage of water during the extinguishing of the fire and this will delay repairs until the level of water damage has been fully ascertained.
African News Agency (ANA)