Woodstock explosion leaves two injured, Cape Town
An explosion from a building at the corner of Plein and Victoria Streets in Woodstock, Cape Town, occurred on Thursday evening, 22 September 2022, where a fire broke out. This was followed by several secondary explosions shortly afterwards.
Mayoral Committee Safety and Security member, Alderman JP Smith said, “City of Cape Town's Fire and Rescue have responded, with numerous appliances including an aerial appliance in use. Several injuries have been reported at this stage. All services are on scene with road closures in place to secure the area.”
Spokesperson at City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service, Jermaine Carelse, said, “Response included a fire engine and aerial appliance from Roeland Street Fire Station, a fire engine from and a water tanker and rescue vehicle from Milnerton.
Carelse added, “The fire was extinguished at 21h11. The building and contents was severely damaged by the fire incident. Two injuries have been reported with two patients who sustained burn wounds. Metro Rescue, ambulance and Metro structural vehicle assisted. The two adult male patients sustained 70 to 100 percent burn wounds and were taken to Groote Schuur Hospital.”
“Challenges faced included the quantities of LPG cylinders within the building,” said Carelse.
Alderman Smith reported, “Inspectors from our Fire and Rescue Safety division were on scene last night and again this morning where they were joined by the South African Police Service bomb squad. Preliminary investigations indicate that the fire was caused by a gas leakage, after two 48kg gas bottles were found inside the premises. The gas canisters were themselves still intact but evidence suggests that gas was possibly been used for basic cooking purposes after a two plate gas cooker was found towards the back of the shop in close proximity to the canisters.”
“It is believed that due to the increased pressure of the larger canisters, a leak could have developed and since gas is heavier than air, it is believed that the gas created a "blanket" that crept along the floor until the shop had become completely saturated, including soaking the clothes of the two victims unbeknown to them, as they were standing behind a counter close to the entrance of the shop”, added Smith.
“Ignition would have come from any of the induction motors used to drive the refrigeration equipment, which would have then ignited the pocket of gas that had filled the premises. With the sudden expansion of mass resulting, the windows and shop front exploded out to the street, followed by debris from inside the shop.”
“Due to the coincidental design of the shop front where aluminium and glass was fixed between the structural pillars, it caused the softer material to be forced outwards allowing the pressure to easily escape, while leaving the structural pillars and formwork of the building undamaged.”
“The neighbouring take-aways shop was not affected by the fire and has suffered only smoke damage, with slight damage to a dividing wall but no structural damage evident. While the scene has been handed over to SAPS for further investigation, the City of Cape Town's Fire Safety division does undertake compliance inspections where complaints are received from the public. To date, no complaints were received for fire safety related aspects for the premises in question.”
“The importance of fire safety remains an important aspect for all property owners to consider, and likewise the tenants that operate such properties. Safety requirements as stipulated within the SANS10087 manual, as well as the City of Cape Town Community Fire Safety by-law applies to all. As in this case, the use of 48kg gas canisters within a premises is strictly prohibited, with the limitation allowing only for use of canisters up to 19kg's and if installed and used correctly and operated under a valid Certificate of Compliance”, concluded Alderman Smith.
Sources: Jermaine Carelse, spokesperson, City of Cape Town Fire and Rescue Service; City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Safety and Security member, Alderman JP Smith