South Africa

EKURHULENI 

Fire at Primrose Hill Primary burns down two foundation phase classrooms

Fire at Primrose Hill Primary burns down two foundation phase classrooms
The remains of two classrooms burnned down at Primrose Hill Primary in Germiston on 1 March 2022. (Photo: Leon Sadiki)

Investigations are underway after a blaze gutted two classrooms at the poorly resourced Germiston school.

Foundation phase pupils from Primrose Hill Primary School in Ekurhuleni North have faced upheaval following a fire that destroyed two of their classrooms in the early hours of Sunday.

Clarifying the extent of the damage, spokesperson for Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services, (DEMS) William Ntladi told Daily Maverick that:

“The school suffered huge damage as the result of the fire, one block of the school made out of two classrooms and storerooms was well alight on the arrival of the firefighting teams from both Primrose and Bedfordview fire stations respectively.”

Fire-ravaged classrooms at Primrose Hill Primary in Germiston on 1 March 2022. (Photo: Leon Sadiki)

Ntladi said the blaze had already caused extensive damage by the time the DEMS received the call informing them of a fire at the school. 

“The emergency management services firefighters from Primrose fire station received the call exactly at 4.48 in the morning and the crews immediately notified Bedfordview fire station crews for backup following the magnitude of the call. On arrival, the crews started with the fire suppression processes,” said Ntladi. 

“Defensive and exposure protection of other unburnt structures were the main initial strategic engagement, then offensively to knock the flames that were already in the roof section of the structure and the corrugated roof material had already caved in. The window panes were shattered and part of the wall plastering cracked. The room contents including books, burnt as well.”

Piles of destroyed books after two classrooms burned down at Primrose Hill Primary in Germiston, 1 March 2022. (Photo: Leon Sadiki)

According to Ntladi, the cause of the fire remains undetermined. Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident while the damage is still being assessed. 

“As on scene on the day of the incident, the cause was undetermined. Local fire safety officers were notified to come to the scene for investigations and currently, no verdict is found yet on the actual cause. One can confirm that at the time of the fire operations, no official engagement with the school officials was conducted,” said Ntladi.

Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) spokesperson Steve Mabona said they are aware of the fire at Primrose Hill Primary and stressed that it had not disturbed school proceedings.

“It must be noted that learning resumed as normal on Monday as learners who occupied the two burnt classrooms were temporarily moved to an alternative venue at the school.”

A young learner walks behind the gutted structures of two fire-ravaged classrooms at Primrose Hill Primary in Germiston on 1 March 2022. (Photo: Leon Sadiki)

However, it remains unclear what the Gauteng Department of Education is doing about the gutted infrastructure at Primrose Hill Primary School, whether it will be fixed anytime soon or how long the affected learners will be schooled at the temporary venue.

The burnt classrooms will remain cordoned off while the damage is being assessed.

When Daily Maverick visited the no-fee school it appeared to be poorly resourced and neglected. It is situated at the back of business premises adjacent to the Makause informal settlement. The school building itself showed varying degrees of neglect —from faded signage to broken windows — even as the interiors reflected efforts by teachers and pupils to bring colour and life to the space.

Primrose Hill Primary School caters for 747 pupils, it is one of the English and vernacular speaking schools in Germiston. DM

 

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