eThekwini fire crews battle massive resin factory fire in Jacobs, Durban; sporadic explosions and structure collapse
A major fire broke out at the KZN Resin factory situated in Balfour Road, Jacobs in Durban early Wednesday morning, 25 August 2021. Sibusiso Mkhulisi, regional commander, eThekwini Fire and Emergency Services said, “The call came through at 00h23 of reports of smoke issuing at the KZN Resin factory. A fire engine from Jacobs Fire Station was the first to attend at 00h36. Upon our arrival, we observed flame pulsating through the roof at the east wing and centre of what initially looked like separate structures but after investigation, we discovered that it was a single structure. What we were faced with was a major hazard installation (MHI), which was basically handling resins products. Whilst there were products inside the factory, the bulk storage was on the underground, outside the factory. Our communication centre dispatched emergency vehicles as per the predetermined attendance (PDA). However, upon arrival and having appreciated the size of the incident, we immediately asked for additional pumps, foam tender and water carrier. The principal standby officer and fire safety officer was also called out to this incident. At one stage, there were 51 fire personnel and 16 emergency fire vehicles mitigating this incident.”
“Response included mainly the vehicles were from Mobeni Fire Station, Jacobs, Amanzimtoti, Central and support vehicles from other fire stations within eThekwini Fire and Emergency Services”, added Mkhulisi.
“The forward command point (FCP) was established and was referred to as KNZ Command. The material safety data sheet (MSDS) was made available.”
“As part of incident management, JOC was formed on site to support the mitigation of incident. Stakeholders from eThekwini Fire and Emergency Services, eThekwini Health Pollution, KZN Resins owners, Provincial Water and Sanitation, Metro Police etc, were in attendance.
Our initial tactical plan was to aggressively attack the fire. This was conducted by sectorising fire teams focussing on both the ground floor and first floor. The rest of the resources on scene were employed to protect exposures and trying to cut the fire from spreading.”
“To complement the fire hydrant pressure, more water carriers were requested to attend the incident. Due to the immense heat coming from the fire and sporadic explosions within the burning building, it became unsafe to work inside the structure. Crews were instructed to withdraw from inside and the focus on exposure protection. Some of our fire hoses were damaged by the inferno in the process. All our staff were accounted for. There were also no casualties from the company reported.”
“During fire fighting, there was a reported of a 11 ton fuel tank (underground) at the entrance, brigade left a ground monitor to protect the tank farm and moved all brigades resources away from the entrance until safe to approach.”
“As the incident progressed, the objective was to contain, confine then extinguish. Brigade’s efforts revolved around making sure fire spread was averted. Brigade was successful in that regard and managed to confine the fire with multiple streams. After some time the explosions stopped and brigade began moving inwards to extinguish. The brigade began to move inside the structure at locations deemed safe. The structure was severely compromised at some areas. The building on the east wing completely collapsed but the fire was stopped before it could progress to adjacent buildings.”
“Spill-Tech salvage company was commissioned to dike and absorb water run offs from storm water drains and track down drains. Also Sky Side company was commissioned to conduct air and water sampling in affected areas. Through the city communication unit an advisory message was sent out to community to be aware of the incident and keep their doors and windows closed.”
Mkhulisi concluded, “Challenges encountered on scene were, water pressures being extremely low at some hydrants. However, we managed to shuttle water and feed the appliances on scene. Brigade performed well considering the difficulties experienced. This, together with the explosions from the inferno, were our main challenges. The incident was brought under control and fire contained within five to six hours. Damping down of hot spots continued throughout the day. The incident has now been closed since this morning, Thursday, 26 August 2021.”
Source: Sibusiso Mkhulisi, regional commander, eThekwini Fire and Emergency Services