Three injured in Canal Walk blaze

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Date 11 March 2021

A dramatic scene unfolded in the blink of an eye at Century City’s Canal Walk on 10 March 2021 when three people were injured in a blaze.  The series of unfortunate events started when a contractor manually filled one of Canal Walk’s diesel generators and spilled diesel along the side of the generator, resulting in a runoff on the ground. 

Simultaneously, Mr Williams, a staff member from one of the stores took a tea break in close vicinity of the generator.  Mr Williams lit his cigarette and threw his matchstick on the ground.  Unbeknown to him, diesel spilled on that very spot only seconds before.  Instantaneously, the flame of the matchstick ignited the diesel and the generator, as well as the contractor.

In a state of shock and panic, Mr Williams attempted to douse the fire, but only set himself alight.  A bystander in the parking saw the smoke, heard Mr Williams screaming and ran over to try and assist him.  In this process, the good Samaritan burnt his own hands and face when we threw his jacket over Mr Williams, smothering the flames.

Rushing to the scene, a Canal Walk security officer immediately reported the incident to the control room.  Subsequently, the security officer extinguished the fiery contractor by rolling him on the ground.

Responding to the call of the security officer to the SOC, emergency services were dispatched, and various Disaster Response teams were contacted. The area was cordoned off and the Canal Walk fire team was able to extinguish the fire. When emergency services arrived, they took over the scene.

“I just saw billowing smoke and heard someone screaming” said the Good Samaritan who prefers to remain anonymous.  “There were two people on fire, and it looked like the generator as well.  It happened so quickly!  Before I knew it, I had one of the persons on the ground and I threw my jacket over him.  I attended a first aid course many years ago, so I knew that I had to smother oxygen to the flames.  Unfortunately, my own hands and face were burnt in the process, fortunately only minor injuries. Luckily, the security guard managed to extinguish the flames on the other person, and I called for help. I am so thankful for the speedy response.  It could have turned into a terrible disaster if the generator exploded.”

Fortunately, the entire “accident” was a simulation, and no real fire or injuries occurred. It was all part of an annual joint training exercise by Century City Safety and Security and the various emergency response teams to test and evaluate the operational readiness of security and emergency response personnel.

“Even though this was just a drill, it is important that we remain vigilant. A disaster can occur in the blink of an eye and whether it’s a motor vehicle accident, building fire or an incident on the canals, we need to be ready for all types of scenarios in Century City.” says Century City Safety and Security Manager, Marinus Boshoff.