The cause of the fire which broke out at Steven Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria on Saturday is being investigated, according to the Gauteng health department. The fire began from a shaft at level three at 10.20pm, said spokesperson Steve Mabona. Smoke from the blaze went up to levels eight and nine, which house 94 patients.
“All patients were immediately evacuated, with an exception of the neonatal and paediatric intensive care units’ patients,” Mabona said. “The firefighters extinguished the fire before any massive damage. The evacuation lasted for about an hour.”
The level three shaft is next to a cleaners’ room, which stores cleaning materials. While the extent of structural damage was unknown, Mabona said preliminary investigations revealed the fire might have been caused by a cigarette end thrown from level eight or nine. “The fire department and Saps will continue to investigate the cause.”
No patients were affected by the smoke, but 13 employees were treated for smoke inhalation. DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom said the blaze highlighted the need for regular fire inspections at the province’s hospitals.
“According to a written reply by Gauteng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature in October last year, an inspection was last done at the Steve Biko Hospital in July last year,” he said.
Last year, three fires broke out in provincial hospitals. One was in the stores department of Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg, the second in the cleaning department at Helen Joseph Hospital in Westbury and the third in the laundry section of Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital in Soweto.