Gas explosion at mall

Pictures: Leon Knipe

Nine people were injured in a gas explosion at the Gardens Centre last week.

According to City of Cape Town’s Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson, Theo Layne, they responded to a fire on Thursday July 5 around 3pm.

Mr Layne said the fire was caused by a gas explosion at Pulp Kitchen, resulting in nine injured people.

Netcare 911 transported two adult patients in a serious condition to hospital.

Seven other adult patients who also sustained burns wounds were treated and transported by various other services, including Fire and Rescue Services, that were on scene. Three fire engines and three rescue vehicles responded to the incident.

An eyewitness who works as a security guard at Nedbank, which is opposite the Pulp Kitchen, Lungisa Mfengu, recalled the experience.

“It was about 3pm when I heard what sounded like a bomb. I was shocked. When I turned around, the staff were already outside. I noticed my friend who works at the restaurant as a chef, was burning and screaming and I ran towards her and tore her burning clothes apart,” he said.

Mr Mfengu said what was gruesome about the whole experience was seeing people taking videos and pictures while people were burning. “Some people were even angry that they couldn’t go on with their businesses at the bank and I tried to explain that we were dealing with a tough situation,” he said.

It took a Nedbank consultant, Shaun Parsons, to think on his feet – he grabbed a fire extinguisher and helped the burning woman. “I was on the phone with a client when I heard the two explosions, the first one I thought was gunfire and the second felt like the building was collapsing, I dropped the phone and ran outside and I saw the lady on fire. I was shocked to see people just standing and taking pictures. I didn’t think and ran back inside to grab the fire extinguisher as she was still on fire,” he said.

Mr Parsons said it was hard to look at the woman, but her piercing screams from the pain forced him to do something. The patients have been reported to be recovering in various hospitals.

Centre manager at Gardens Centre, Melvina Walters, said: “As is standard protocol when an incident such as this occurs, an investigation is undertaken by the relevant authorities with the assistance of emergency services. This investigation is under way and we await those findings.”