The finishing department at Rotex factory in Atlantis was damaged by a fire on Tuesday night that left heaps of fabric charred. Pictures: Cindy Waxa

Cape Town - Thousands of kilos of fabric was destroyed in a blaze when a factory in Atlantis caught alight.

The finishing department at Rotex factory, on Jan Heyns street, was damaged by a fire on Tuesday night that left heaps of fabric charred.

It is believed that the fire started in the chimney of one of the heat setting machines, where material is heated in preparation for dyeing.

There were about 35 night shift workers in the building, five of them in the finishing department where the blaze apparently broke out.

Team leader at the finishing department, Brandon Armstrong, said workers had attempted to stop the fire from spreading but to no avail.

“I was about to go on a break when I heard screams. As a team we tried to put out the fire but it was too strong and was spreading rapidly. I made a decision to vacate the workers as a safety precaution,” said Armstrong.

Normally when small fires occur at the factory, workers are able to put them out but this was different.

“This was a different fire. It was too strong,” Armstrong explained.

City Fire and Rescue spokesman Theo Layne said the fire broke out at about 10pm.

“Mostly the bails of material were destroyed and the building sustained minor damages.,” he said.

He said 35 firefighters were called to the scene and one firefighter suffered smoke inhalation but has since been discharged from hospital.

At the factory, the inside of the finishing department has been saturated with water and charred material now lies everywhere. The room itself is in darkness, cluttered with abandoned machines, and the roof has caved in.

Co-owner of the factory, Siegfried Rhohner, said they were still waiting for engineers to assess the damage to the building and machines.

He said this was a huge loss to the company but he was glad that no workers were injured and the dispatch room was not damaged.

“We had just bought a Stenter machine, I don't know whether it's damaged or not. This will pug a huge dent in the business and we will have to see what the engineers say,” added Thorner.

Cape Argus