News 6.3.2018 07:12 pm

Pictures: Looters brave inferno, firefighters in Joburg CBD

Scrap metal scavengers salvage what they can from a burning building as firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 6 March 2018. Picture: Michel Bega

Scrap metal scavengers salvage what they can from a burning building as firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 6 March 2018. Picture: Michel Bega

Firefighters had to turn their hoses on the scrap-metal scavengers, who were risking their lives darting into the smouldering wreck.

Firefighters had to resort to blasting scrap metal scavengers with their water hoses in an attempt to prevent injuries while tending to a blaze in the Johannesburg CBD today.

“The fire started at approximately 9am on the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street. Three fire trucks were dispatched to the scene,” according to Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesperson Nana Radebe.

I arrived at the scene after the fire had predominantly been extinguished, but the scene was still hot.

Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in a building at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 6 March 2018. While attempting to extinguish the blaze, the Emergency Management Services had to contend with groups of scavengers attempting to loot the building of whatever scrap metal they could find. Firefighters resorted to blasting the scavengers with their water hoses. A handful of JMPD officers attempted to keep the large crowds at bay. Picture: Michel Bega

A massive crowd gathered to watch firefighters dousing the flames on the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in Johannesburg’s CBD on Tuesday. Picture: Michel Bega

A massive crowd of onlookers surrounded the firefighters watching the inferno and the team at work. The building and streets had been cordoned off by tape for people’s safety, but this did nothing to keep the crowds from edging closer.

I focused my attention on the firefighters, but every now and then I’d see people darting past the cordon into the still smouldering building.

Scrap metal scavengers salvage what they can from a burning building as firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 6 March 2018. While attempting to extinguish the blaze, the Emergency Management Services had to contend with groups of people attempting to loot the building of whatever scrap metal they could find. Firefighters resorted to blasting the scavengers with their water hoses. A handful of JMPD officers attempted to keep the large crowds at bay. Picture: Michel Bega

Scrap metal scavengers salvage what they can from a burning building as firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 6 March 2018. Picture: Michel Bega

I followed one and quickly realised these people were scrap metal scavengers ripping out whatever metal they could salvage from the building. Corrugated iron sheets, burglar proofing, security gates and cabling were all being torn from the structure, which as it was, was already a crumbling wreck.

In an attempt to prevent injuries the EMS turned their hoses on the scavengers, who were forced to flee the scene totally drenched, some empty-handed, but some celebrating with their loot in hand.

Scrap metal scavengers salvage what they can from a burning building as firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 6 March 2018. While attempting to extinguish the blaze, the Emergency Management Services had to contend with groups of people attempting to loot the building of whatever scrap metal they could find. Firefighters resorted to blasting the scavengers with their water hoses. A handful of JMPD officers attempted to keep the large crowds at bay. Picture: Michel Bega

Firefighters resorted to blasting the scavengers with their water hoses in an effort to prevent injuries in the crumbling building on the corner of Albertine Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD on Tuesday. Picture: Michel Bega

As this behaviour continued the crowd cheered on the hopefuls.

A small number of JMPD officers attempted to keep the scavengers at bay, but their attempts were mostly unsuccessful.

What saddened me was that these people were literally risking their safety in an attempt to possibly make a few meagre rands. The extent of their actions just goes to show how desperate people are to put food on the table.

Fortunately, there were no injuries reported.

Scrap metal scavengers salvage what they can from a burning building as firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire at the corner of Albertina Sisulu Road and Troye Street in the Johannesburg CBD, 6 March 2018. While attempting to extinguish the blaze, the Emergency Management Services had to contend with groups of people attempting to loot the building of whatever scrap metal they could find. Firefighters resorted to blasting the scavengers with their water hoses. A handful of JMPD officers attempted to keep the large crowds at bay. Picture: Michel Bega

Scrap metal scavengers run from firefighters who resorted to blasting them with their water hoses as they were risking their lives going inside a smouldering building in Johannesburg’s CBD on Tuesday. Picture: Michel Bega

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