Questions are being raised about the circumstances surrounding the death of a male patient who sustained fatal burns after a fire broke out at Groote Schuur Hospital. The City’s Fire and Rescue Service responded to a blaze in Ward G17 at 22h30 on Sunday evening. Fire and Rescue Service’s spokesperson Theo Layne said that one bed and a bedside table were damaged in the blaze and no other injuries were reported. The incident has since been handed over to the South African Police Service [SAPS] for further investigation.
Groote Schuur Hospital public relations officer, Alaric Jacobs, confirmed that a 63-year-old male patient died as a result of a fire, but details surrounding the incident are yet to be determined.
“We don’t know what the cause was of the fire. Obviously, the nurses were around. But, I can’t speculate as to what exactly what happened and how quickly the fire spread. So, without me knowing all of those details I can’t go into detail about what exactly happened there.”
Woodstock resident Moegamat Sayied Sirkhotte (68) said he assisted in moving patients after receiving a call from a friend who was at the casualty section of the hospital at the time of blaze.
“I arrived there at about something to 00h00,” he noted.
Sirkhotte said he assisted in transporting wheelchair bound patients from the cordoned floors.
Due to smoke spreading through the building, he said patients were removed from the floor below Ward G17.
“They started moving patients down, from the G Floor down into the C Floor, which is the casualty ward, also from F16 [and] F17, just a floor below.”
Sirkhotte reported that one of the nurses, who was present during the evacuation process, alleged that the deceased patient was smoking a cigarette, which led to the blaze.
“[The nurse] emphasized ‘where were the nurses at the time?’ because, if there was a fire there, surely other patients will shout and scream [for] help.
“She was concerned [about] where the nurses were at that time – the nurses of that particular ward,” he recalled.
Sirkhotte said no patients complained to him about concerns of negligence.
Given reports that the blaze was started due to a lit cigarette, Jacobs said he was unable to verify the cause of the blaze.
He said that nurses in the area “identified that there was a fire.”
Ward G17 generally has two to three nurses on duty, accompanied by doctors on duty.
The identity of the patient and the reason for his admission to the hospital has not been released at this stage.
“That is confidential. I can’t give information in terms of what was actually wrong with the patient,” Jacobs asserted.
VOC reporter Thakira Desai spoke to Groote Schuur Hospital public relations officer, Alaric Jacobs.
SAPS Western Cape spokesperson, Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana, says circumstances surrounding the incident is unconfirmed at this stage and an inquest case is currently under investigation.
Rwexana says at this stage in the investigation, SAPS is unable to verify speculation that a lit cigarette caused the blaze.
“The cause of the fire is yet to be established, so we are not commenting on the speculations thereof,” she stated.