Patients evacuated from Johannesburg hospital fire

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Hundreds of patients are being evacuated from Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital where a fire is blazing through parts of the facility in South Africa’s largest city.

No injuries or casualties have been reported and patients are being moved to other public hospitals in the metropolitan area, Johannesburg officials said.

Early yesterday morning the fire caused the third floor of the hospital’s parking garage to collapse.

Sixty firefighters have been battling the blaze through the night. The fire started on Friday morning and had been doused by the afternoon but then it reignited in the evening and burned through the night.

The fire has caused extensive damage to the hospital, which has more than 1,000 beds and serves Johannesburg, a city of six million people, and the surrounding Gauteng province. It is one of the biggest public hospitals in South Africa. It is also a designated treatment centre for COVID-19 in Gauteng.

The fire started in a storeroom for dry surgical supplies, according to officials.

“Our firefighters have been receiving help from others in neighbouring municipalities. It has been a tedious process trying to move patients. At first, we moved them to wards that were far away from the fire but we started to evacuate them,” Gauteng health spokeswoman Kwara Kekana told AP.

Hospital staff prepare to evacuate patients on stretchers at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. PHOTO: AP