Kruger Park blaze leaves a lingering sadness

Kruger Park blaze leaves a lingering sadness

29 November 2008

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South Africa — Fighting vicious fires and cutting free critically injured people from mangled wrecks is part of the daily duties of the city’s finest.

This year has been no walk in the park for the 350 Tshwane Emergency Services fire fighters who had from January up until November 19, tackled no fewer than 4 329 fires, gone to 7 300 accident scenes, and performed 908 special rescues.

Emergency services spokesperson Johan Pieterse said by far the most memorable and tragic emergency of the year so far was the fire at the Kruger Park flats in July.

“This fire was related directly to the dilapidated state which this building and the Schubart Park apartment towers are in.

“Many other incidents were attended to during the year, some with multiple fatalities, but they were not nearly as challenging as the Kruger Park fire,” he said.

Five people, including a toddler, died in that fire.

Pieterse said that in 2008 they were again called upon to combine fire fighting resources with other fire services in Gauteng, and to establish a task team for Limpopo Province to assist with the containment and extinguishing of out of control veld and bush fires.

“The blaze had already destroyed thousands of hectares of bushveld and caused the death of livestock and wild animals. The success of this team is demonstrated in that they had completed their mission within 24 hours of arriving there and prevented the catastrophic destruction of property, farm animals, grazing and indigenous fauna and flora,” he said.

The service has also educated the community on fire safety, distributed educational material, performed static displays at organised events and conducted rescue demonstrations.

Their hard work and dedication has not gone without reward – in August two firefighters took home top honours at the 10th World Firefighters Games held in Liverpool, England.

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