Made an open fire in a drum, locked themselves into shelter to keep themselves warm. Picture: Supplied
Made an open fire in a drum, locked themselves into shelter to keep themselves warm. Picture: Supplied

Guards die of smoke inhalation at Groenkloof Nature Reserve

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published Jun 4, 2021

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Pretoria - Two security guards have died at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve after inhaling smoke from a makeshift fire.

The bodies of the two guards, who were employed by the private company Sidaf, which conducts security services at the reserve, were discovered in a storage shelter on Wednesday at 6.40am by a supervisor.

According to City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo, it was picked up that the guards who were on the night shift, were missing by the supervisor who was in the process of posting the day team.

Yesterday, Mashigo said it was suspected that both died in their sleep through smoke inhalation from an open fire in a drum, after they had locked themselves into the shelter to keep themselves warm.

He added that a case had been reported to the police and Tshwane metro police department for a proper investigation to be conducted, but at the moment no foul play was suspected.

"The City wishes to convey its heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased."

This happened on an evening when temperatures in Tshwane were, according to the South African Weather Service, cold and ranging from 17.9°C to a low of 4.7°C.

Tshwane Emergency services spokesperson Charles Mabaso cautioned residents against the use of braziers – especially indoors, as the winter days drag on.

Mabaso said it was important for people to note that in the cases where braziers – or makeshift fires – were used they had to be placed in well-ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

He said this was due to the fact that it was difficult to treat carbon monoxide poisoning as it attached itself to the blood cells, making it very hard to help affected people. "The danger with carbon monoxide is that you just feel sleepy and eventually lose consciousness, and because it attaches to the blood cells even when you administer oxygen people are less likely to respond to the treatment.

"So the basic principle is that if you need to create a fire it must be in a well-ventilated place and never to be left overnight or when sleeping."

Mabaso said with the temperatures dropping to freezingly cold levels in the city, alongside the intermittent load shedding taking place, they had noticed a slight rise in formal and informal fires around the city.

He said what they often found was that people resorted to using paraffin or gas stoves on top of their electrical stove for cooking when load shedding struck.

"What happens in most cases is that people then forget to switch off their stove and go to sleep or work, only for the electricity to return with the appliance still turned on.

"So we're desperately urging people never to put a gas or paraffin appliance on top of an electrical appliance. It's best that they rather use a table if they require the height to cook.

"Another culprit is candles, so when using them, people need to make sure to place them away from other objects so that should they fall over it won't caause a fire. Ideally, it should be placed in the middle of the room."

He also offered an easy trick for people to create makeshift candle holders with empty plastic bottles, that would ensure their safety.

When using a 2-litre plastic bottle, Mabaso said, residents could cut two-thirds of the bottle off and place the top part facing inward with water at the bottom so that should the candle burn out it would be extinguished by the water inside the bottle instead.

Pretoria News

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