Blaze destroys ambulances and 21 other state vehicles

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

While the country is still grappling with measures to curb the widespread veld fires that have caused damage estimated at millions of rands, a hospital in Limpopo has been hit by a fire.

Ambulances and at least 21 government vehicles at Mokopane Hospital, outside Mahwelereng township, were destroyed by a fire that allegedly started from a nearby house on Tuesday night, authorities said.

According to the hospital's chief executive, Aldina Ntsewa, a youngster was alleged to have been burning rubbish at his home.

The fire had then spread to the hospital premises, setting the vehicles alight and destroying them.

The cars were due to be auctioned next week, Ntsewa said.

She said she believed the fire had spread to the hospital grounds because of the blowing wind.

Ntsewa said the burnt-out cars consisted of old ambulances, sedans and bakkies, which had either been involved in accidents or were no longer needed by the hospital.

"We have reported a case to the police and are also awaiting a reaction from our head office in Polokwane," said Ntsewa.

She said the hospital authorities did not suspect any foul play at this stage but would rely on police investigations.

By late yesterday no estimate of the damage was available.

"We have sent a team of assessors to help in assessing the damage that could have been caused as a result of the fire," she said.

Phuti Seloba, the spokesman for the provincial department of health and social development, said yesterday that their risk management unit, in conjunction with the police, would advise the department on what steps to take once investigations had been completed.