The streets surrounding the building where a fatal fire broke out on Wednesday are set to remain closed‚ as emergency services attempt to protect the public from falling pieces of glass and other debris.
Albertina Sisulu and Sauer streets‚ in the vicinity of the Bank of Lisbon building in the Johannesburg CBD‚ would be cordoned off on Thursday morning‚ the city’s MMC for public safety‚ Michael Sun‚ told this publication on Wednesday evening.
The building houses‚ among others‚ the Gauteng government’s health‚ human settlements‚ and co-operative governance and traditional affairs departments.
Three firefighters died in the fire‚ one of them after falling from more than 20 floors up as horrified eyewitnesses looked on. The others died inside the building. While several people were trapped‚ there were no other fatalities‚ this publication was told.
Sun said the fire was contained to the 24th floor. It had been extinguished and the building completely cleared of all people by Wednesday evening‚ but that did not mean the building was given the all-clear.
He added that authorities were poised to start their investigations — into both the cause of the fire and the deaths of the three first responders — as soon as the building was declared safe enough to enter. It was hoped this would happen on Thursday.
While the cause was unknown‚ Gauteng premier David Makhura believes one employee might be able to unravel the mystery.