Smoke billowing from the building that fire fighters have been battling with since Wednesday.

Johannesburg - Firefighters spent the whole night battling the raging fire at the building that houses three government departments in the Joburg CBD.

However, just as they thought they had contained it and has successfully put it down around 3 am, it reignited and spread down the shaft. 

On Thursday morning it was raging relentlessly again, spreading from the 23rd floor where it had started to the 16th floor.

Speaking to The Star on Thursday morning, spokeswoman for the Johannesburg Emergency Services Nana Radebe said when she went home just before 3 am, the situation was getting better but then took an unexpected turn due to what was in the building.

"There was a whole lot of material, furniture and boxes and papers that made extinguishing the fire a challenge. We have a new team now as the other has gone home to rest."

Radebe also said the other problem they encountered was the low water pressure which made the job of putting down the fire difficult.

"We had a problem with the water pressure. When you put out a fire, the water that comes out has to come out with a very high pressure but we were battling. We had to ask Joburg Water to redirect some of the water to the hydrants we were using and then close the other hydrants nearby," she said.

Traffic was badly affected on Thursday morning as motorists had to use alternative routes as many others were closed due to huge fire engines that were battling the fire.

There was heavy police and the Johannesburg Metro Police directed heavy congested traffic on the roads not far from the burning building as some roads

Three firefighters lost their lives and others were hospitalised. Some of the people working in the building were taken to hospital as well.

Radebe did not know just how long it would take for the fire to be extinguished but said they had received reinforcements from Ekurhuleni Emergency Services who had also helped battle the fire the whole night.

The Star