Vintage: Woodmead Makro gutted by fire in 2001
The Makro Woodmead store was destroyed by fire on 6 May 2001. The massive blaze that gutted most the warehouse in Woodmead, Johannesburg was extinguished on that Sunday night. Division officer of public information for the City of Johannesburg at that time, Rodney Eksteen, said that by 9h00 fire fighters were still on scene watering down hot spots and extinguishing several smaller fires burning inside the gutted remains of the store. Eksteen said at the time the cause of the blaze was not known and would be investigated by the fire safety division of the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services.
Two fire fighters were slightly injured during the blaze. Eksteen said the two men were treated at the scene. One fire fighter sprained his ankle and the other was treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration, Eksteen said.
About 90 percent of the building was destroyed by the fire which was believed to have started in the camping section of the store around 16h56. Eksteen said about 65 fire fighters and 20 vehicles, from several stations around Johannesburg battled the blaze for about four hours. Paramedics were also on standby. He said the blaze was first detected by an automated fire system installed at Makro, which was closed to the public at 13h00.
Fire fighters also prevented the flames from spreading to neighbouring facilities.
Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Wayne Minnaar said the Woodmead offramp on the M1 north and Woodmead roads were closed and traffic diverted towards Randburg and Marlboro Gardens.
About 15 fire fighters and three fire engines remained at the scene of a fire on Monday. "The fire fighters are still cooling down hotspots, turning over and damping down hot debris and extinguishing several smaller fires burning within the remains of the store," said Johannesburg Emergency Management Services spokesman Richard Owen on Monday night.
Owen said a fireman who was injured while fighting the blaze on Sunday night was discharged from hospital on Monday night. Three others who were treated for smoke inhalation were discharged from hospital earlier in the day.
Owen said Waste-Tech employees confirmed that there was no contamination of the Jukskei River but said they would continue to monitor the situation. He added that investigators, including those from the fire safety division at the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services, had yet to begin sifting through the rubble. "The investigating teams couldn't gain entry into the remains of the building due to heat and the collapse of the structure. We have to ensure that it is safe for them to access the area to conduct a full investigation. It will probably be safe for them to enter by Tuesday," said Owen.
The fire caused damage estimated at around R200-million, said the store's holding company earlier on Monday, 7 May 2001.
Executive chairperson of Massmart Holdings Limited Mark Lamberti, said the loss of profits could only be calculated once the store had been rebuilt. "It is anticipated that the store will be rebuilt and opened in under a year," he said. "The management team of Makro was already formulating plans for the rapid re-opening of the store and the retention of customers at other Makro outlets." Lamberti said the jobs of the 180 permanent Woodmead employees were secure.
The cause of the fire was not known but it had been determined that there was no forced entry into the building and no foul play was suspected.
Source: News24 and The Citizen