Mon, 20 Jan 2020

SABC fire located close to 5fm, MetroFM studios

26 Jun 2019, 04:10 GMT+10

A fire at the SABC that broke out on Tuesday morning has prompted immediate changes to the production of the SABC's radio stations and their programming, News24 understands.

This after the broadcaster's Radio Park building was evacuated and nine people being taken to hospital for smoke inhalation. This is the second mass evacuation at the South African public broadcaster within two months.

The fire broke out inside the cafeteria located close to the studios of the 5FM and Metro FM radio stations.

The fire - apparently electrical - was extinguished, although the cause has not yet been confirmed.

Similar to last month, the evacuation prompted immediate changes to the production of the SABC's radio stations and their programming, including the Afrikaans station RSG that switched to producing from its Cape Town studio in Sea Point.

There's not been a statement from the SABC yet.

The same Radio Park building was evacuated last month during a diesel spill that saw thousands of litres of diesel flood the building when a power outage caused the building to switch to its back-up power generator located on the 15th floor.

"A failure of the equipment led to the diesel tank overflowing," the SABC said last month.

SABC executives, as well as former and current SABC board members, have been warning for months that the SABC has failed to do maintenance due to the broadcaster's precarious financial position.

In November 2018, the former SABC board member Mathatha Tsedu told and warned Parliament and the minister of communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams that the SABC is turning into a potential death trap.

"We haven't maintained our buildings for a very long time. Last week a huge chunk fell from the reception of the Radio Park building. The people responsible for the maintenance of our buildings have been warning that there are cracks there - something is going to happen. But we don't have the money. We're only dealing with what is broadcast critical," he said.

"If there is a crack up there and it doesn't stop us from going on air, we will not fix it until that rock falls down. And one day, it is going to fall on someone."

The SABC said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that its "Radio Park building has been declared safe for occupation, following the fire which broke out earlier today".

"An initial assessment indicates that the fire started in a secluded area of the canteen, where an electrical distribution board is located. The fire was contained almost immediately," said Vuto Mthembu, SABC spokesperson.

"All employees occupying the building were successfully evacuated; however a few employees have since been taken to hospital for observation as a result of inhalation of smoke. The canteen is currently closed for further assessment and operations continue as normal."

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