Fire destroys JHB special needs school

A Marlboro school for mentally disabled children was damaged in a factory fire on Saturday.

The remains of a school that was affected by a fire in Marlboro on 1 September 2012. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - A school for children with special needs was severely damaged in a factory fire that left hundreds of Malboro residents homeless over the weekend.

Three classrooms at the Nokuthula Special School, which caters to mentally challenged pupils, were destroyed when nearly 200 shacks burnt down inside an abandoned ice-cream factory in northern Johannesburg.

Investigations to determine what sparked the fire are underway.

The hallway and classrooms at the school were flooded by water used by firemen to quell the blaze on Saturday.

The school's entire roof was damaged by raging flames, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the building.

A spokesperson for the Johannesburg Emergency and Disaster Management Services, Robert Mulaudzi, said firefighters did all they could to extinguish the fire.

He said they arrived in time to prevent the entire building from being completely destroyed.

Clean-up operations at Nokuthula Special School are expected to begin on Monday, but it is unclear whether classes for the mentally challenged learners will resume.

Meanwhile, displaced Marlboro residents have complained that relief workers only offered them one blanket each.

They say they need food and assistance to rebuild their homes.