Barely hours after the office of the premier in Gauteng burned down, Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle’s offices in Bhisho also went up in flames yesterday.
The fire was noticed yesterday afternoon around 3pm, when an employee saw smoke coming from the archive storage.
The main building was not affected by the fire.
Masualle speaking to the media yesterday said: “It’s one of those things that on a day like this [the ANC policy conference] can be quite confusing.
“It does appear that the area in which the fire broke out was used for storing records … it’s early days to really speak [about] the extent of the damage. We have to do some investigation to get all the information perhaps we can tell what we really lost”.
The National Health and Allied Workers Union said they would request an investigation as the fire seemed suspicious.
Chief operations officer Luvuyo Mabombo, said they could not say at this stage how the fire had started.
“The fire came as a shock and an inconvenience to us, but we are happy that no injuries have been reported. People were quickly evacuated from the building.
“The fire engine was summoned from East London and put out the fire before it could do much damage. When the Dispatch arrived in Bhisho yesterday, staff members were standing at a filling station close to the premier’s offices.
Police were already on the scene and no one was allowed to enter the premises. The area is being treated as a crime scene.
Employees and those who work around the Bhisho precinct uploaded pictures on social media.
SAPS cluster commander for King William’s Town Brigadier Luntu Ngubelanga said fire experts had been called to the scene.
Yesterday he said police were still not sure whether the fire was started intentionally or caused by an electric fault. He said police would take further action when the cause has been determined.
Earlier yesterday, fire destroyed the offices of Gauteng premier Makhura after an electrical fault set off a blaze on one of the floors of the building.
Roads leading to the office in the Johannesburg city centre were closed off following the fire in Simmonds Street.
Smoke could be seen at the top of the building as paramedics‚ fire services and police attended the scene.
“Once the fire department has established the cause of the fire‚ it will be communicated to the public.
“The fire at 8.40am this morning on the seventh floor‚ was in an office where there were already people obviously‚ was a result of an electrical plug‚” Makhura said.
The part of the building that caught fire, housed the finance division.
Makhura said within eight minutes of the fire‚ all 280 staff had been evacuated and firefighters were on site within 15 minutes and the fire was put out within an hour of having started..
Makhura‚ who left the ANC policy conference in Nasrec to attend to the fire scene‚ said whatever was burnt on the seventh floor was safe, as the office had off-site storage facilities where information was backed up.
“As we speak now‚ the fire on the seventh floor has been contained. Everything that was burnt down, is available on our off-site storage facility.
“In the finance department‚ I made sure that all documents were not lost‚” he said.
Makhura said his team would stay at the building until the area was given the all-clear.