Firefighters respond to blaze one hour later, despite being 5 minutes away – Vrededorp residents

A resident talks to firefighters outside a garage where two vehicles were destroyed in Vrededorp, Johannesburg.

A resident talks to firefighters outside a garage where two vehicles were destroyed in Vrededorp, Johannesburg.
Alfonso Nqunjana
  • Residents of Vrededorp have accused firefighters of responding late to a recent blaze even though the Brixton Fire Station is only five minutes away.
  • A fire destroyed two vehicles at a flat on Thursday afternoon.
  • The City of Johannesburg’s Emergency Management Services, however, said firefighters responded on time.

Residents of Vrededorp in Johannesburg are angry after a fire truck allegedly arrived at the scene of a fire an hour after it was called, despite the Brixton Fire Station being located only five minutes away.

News24 arrived on the scene to find a garage at a block of flats engulfed in flames while helpless residents stood by and watched.

Two cars were destroyed by the flames.

The owner of one of the cars refused to comment on the response time of the fire department as he was still coming to terms with losing his car.

READ | Springs dad opens up about the devastating fire that took his wife and kids

The fire was allegedly started by someone who had been instructed to strip one of the cars as its owner had died.

“He is alleged to have started the fire inside the car, which was turned off by someone who saw him. It then proceeded to burn on the outside, which set the whole garage on fire,” the car owner said.

According to the owner, the damage was estimated at R200 000 as a VW Jetta and VW Polo were destroyed in the blaze.

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Residents said the fire started at on Thursday at 12:00. They stood by helplessly as there was no water in the area.

Residents said the fire started at 12:00, and News24 saw the fire truck arriving on the scene at 13:00.

“I am going to open a case as I won’t go looking for the person who started the fire,” said the car owner.

Yola Minnaar, a philanthropist in Vrededorp, said it was common for the fire department to respond to incidents late.

“Normally, it’s a problem with them. In most of the cases, (the reason) is that they do not have water, or they do not know where the fire hydrant is. We are used to this,” Minnaar said.

“The fire department is right here at the corner, just behind this cemetery you are seeing. They can even walk here. That is how close they are,” Minnaar added.

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Residents of the block of flats in Vrededorp watch the firefighters.
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Residents told News24 it was common for the fire department to take long to respond to fires in the area.
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Residents of the block of flats in Vrededorp watch the firefighters.
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Residents told News24 it was common for the fire department to take long to respond to fires in the area.

Firefighters from the Florida Fire Station in Roodepoort arrived on the scene and were followed by two more fire trucks after the blaze had slowed down.

While firefighters were taking out their equipment, some of the residents said out loud “You are late”, “What took you so long?”, “You are useless”.

According to City of Johannesburg Emergency Management Service’s (EMS) spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi, firefighters from Malvern were dispatched to the scene of the fire.

“Brixton Fire Station responded to the fire incident, and it was assisted by a fire engine from Malvern, which falls under the same district as Brixton, which serves the areas in and around the inner city, as far as we are concerned,” Mulaudzi said.

He added:

The firefighters who responded to the fire incident responded within the reasonable time required when responding to fire incidents. In this case, the fire station is just a stone’s throw away.

Nana Radebe, also an EMS spokesperson, said EMS had received a call about the fire at 12:32.

“Two fire engines were dispatched to the flat on fire. Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities were reported,” Radebe said.

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