It has emerged that the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg, which has been closed after a fire forced the evacuation of nearly 700 patients, has no working fire hydrants.

Wynand Engelbrecht, CEO of Fire Operations South Africa, a private company that took part in the firefighting operations, has made the allegation. Engelbrecht says this is a matter of serious concern.

The fire started in the storeroom that houses medical supplies and spread to other parts of the hospital. According to Johannesburg Emergency Services, it has been completely extinguished.  

Gauteng Health Department Spokesperson, Kwara Kekana, says the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

“Well, at this stage the City of Johannesburg firefighting team , I mean that falls within their purview, also other relevant authorities as well and at this stage, they’ve not been able to furnish us with that information but I do think that it’s still early stages.

It’s basically just to ensure that the fire doesn’t re-ignite, so they’re saying they are engaged in that particular exercise at the current moment. We just had a debriefing session, they took us through some of those elements of where they are with their operations. I do think it’s bit early on for them to be able to indicate what could have been the cause of fire or potentially what could have accelerated it or re-ignited the fire as well,” Kekana adds.

More on Kekana’s SABC interview in the video below:

Hundreds of patients have been moved to other health facilities in the province and the hospital has been shut down for seven days to facilitate the assessment of the situation.