No injuries reported after Fire at National Hospital in Bloemfontein

    The Free State Department of Health has assured the families of patients who were hospitalised at National Hospital in Bloemfontein when fire broke on Sunday afternoon, that all the patients are safe.

    According to the MEC Viceroy Mahlatsi, the matter is now under investigation by law enforcement.  

    “We are still unclear what caused the fire. Our engineers have ruled out any gas leak and we will await the investigation report from the police. A key fact is that no one died or got injured as a result of this fire. All persons inside the hospital are accounted for,” he says.

    Mahlatsi says the fire broke out at about 15:20. It started outside the paediatric ward and caught on to the trees, and spread to the first and second floors of the hospital.

    “This led to smoke spreading throughout the hospital. The Hospital Disaster Plan was swiftly activated. Mangaung Metro Fire and Rescue Services, with various state and private EMS services were activated and they responded swiftly to aid in the safe evacuation of patients.” He adds.

    “There were 83 patients in the wards. Twenty-three were transferred to Botshabelo District Hospital. The remaining 50 were temporarily moved to Gateway clinic, from there they’ll be taken to Universitas Academic Hospital, Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital and MUCPP.”

    Although the matter is under investigation, Moabi Makatelle of the NGO, Keep Hospitals Safe, suspects cigarette as a cause of the fire.

    “We have, for a long time, been calling for hospitals to be smoke free. We have cautioned the Department of Health about health workers and patients smoking inside the premises of facilities. We are calling for a ban on smoking inside the yards of all health facilities because, in addition to being a health risk, cigarette buds that are left burning can cause fire. That’s what we suspect happened here,” Makatelle says.

    Free State premier Maqueen Letsoha-Mathae thanked emergency workers.

    “We witnessed workers who know what it means to be in an emergency situation, all workers were hands-on to keep the situation under control and moving patients. On behalf of the people of Free State I thank all emergency services workers,” she says.

    This incident is third in as many years. Last year part of Pelonomi hospital caught fire. In 2022 a fire broke out in the laundry room at Botshabelo District Hospital.

    Free State health department spokesperson Mondli Mvambi says the fire at National Hospital was quickly extinguished, but it left severe damage to the facility.

    “The hospital will continue with other services but currently it will not accept new terminally ill patients. The burnt sections are currently crime scenes and only after they have been handed back to the department we will urgently work to fix what has burnt. The National Hospital plays a key role in the area. We’re currently diverting critical patients to Pelonomi Tertiary and Universitas Academic Hospitals,” he says. – Health-e News

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