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Joburg fire: Firefighters’ deaths a ‘loss to the whole of SA’

Three firefighters died on Wednesday, while battling the inferno that broke out on the 23rd floor of the building which was found to have flouted safety regulations.

Firefighters begin clearing away equipment on 7 September 2018 near the Lisbon Building following the deadly fire there earlier this week. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Emergency services and law enforcement agencies say they'll continue to investigate the cause of the deadly fire at the Lisbon Bank building in downtown Johannesburg.

Three firefighters died on Wednesday while battling the inferno that broke out on the 23rd floor of the building which was found to have flouted safety regulations.

Johannesburg emergency services say it’s a sad time within the department following the deaths of the three firefighters.

EMS spokesperson Nana Radebe says they are grateful to the public who’ve come to the scene of the fire with messages of condolences.

“Even the colleagues of the deceased that are here, we’ve organised trauma counselling for them because it’s a very difficult time for all of us.”

She says the deaths of the firefighters is a major loss for the whole country.

“At first, you think this has happened and it only affects this department, but after seeing everyone that’s been coming in, we acknowledge that this is not only our loss but the loss of South Africa as a whole.”

LISTEN: #JoburgFire: Building safety compliance in spotlight

THIRD NIGHT OF MONITORING

The Lisbon Bank Building is being monitored on Friday evening following the deadly fire.

Earlier, bumper to bumper traffic remained a problem in the CBD as some of the streets surrounding the burned building remain closed off to traffic.

Shards of glass can be seen on the streets where windows were broken during the fire.

There are still some clouds of smoke coming from the top floors of the building.

Radebe says it remains a tense and difficult time in the department following the deaths of the three firefighters.

“When they go out every morning, they’re not sure if they’re going to come back. You are there to save people’s lives but we want to ensure that all our firefighters are safe at all times.”

At the same time, the Economic Freedom Fighters says it will be opening cases of murder against the provinces departments of human settlement, health, infrastructure development as well as the premier’s office.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)