An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the blaze that led to the evacuation of close to 100 patients, including 25 newborns, at Addington Hospital on Tuesday.

The fire broke out on the seventh floor of the Durban hospital leading to the emergency evacuation of 84 patients, at around 8am.

Management at the embattled hospital were alerted to the inferno by a nurse who had informed security personnel
who started trying to douse
the fire using fire extinguishers. By then, strong clouds of smoke had begun spreading to the hospital’s wards on the ninth and13th floors.

KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, praised the staff for their quick thinking and action in saving no fewer than 25 mothers and their newborn babies. As well as nine children in the children’s ward on the 13th floor, and 20 patients who needed gynaecology services, who had to be evacuated due to the strong smoke.

“We would like to thank our security personnel, hospital staff and management, as well as eThekwini Fire and Emergency services for the manner in which they responded to this emergency. We are grateful for their collective efforts in saving lives, and that damage to property is minimal. We will follow-up on the progress of investigation, and if there is any evidence of foul play, the law will have to take its course.”

The hospital has been struggling with some of the lifts not working and they had been awaiting repairs. Tuesday’s fire occurred near the lifts and caused further damage “Regrettably, the lift has now suffered more damage due to the seepage of water during the fire extinguishing process. Plans to repair the lift will have to be shelved until the level of water damage has been fully ascertained,” the department said in a statement.  

However, the DA MPL Dr Imran Keeka, said the much needed repairs were highly unlikely before the end of the year. Keeka estimated that this acute matter will only be attended to once the new Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Hospital is in full operation and the services at Addington will be able to be downscaled to accommodate for this.  “When this will happen and how long it will take and whether adequate funding will be timelessly  allocated, given the departments appalling finance management,  is anyone’s guess. Addington Hospital is a disaster waiting to happen.  This facility is not fire compliant and has been so for far too long.  
“We are fortunate that this incident did not cost lives. Just imagine if a bigger fire breaks out, if people are trapped in the dysfunctional lifts during such a time and evacuation is not possible.” No injuries have been reported and patients were safely evacuated.