Parts of Johannesburg will remain in the dark following…


An underground fire has plunged much of Johannesburg into darkness. Johannesburg Emergency Services (JES) spokesman Robert Mulaudzi said he managed to put out the fire just before midnight.

“We managed to reach the source of the fire, where the fire started, and managed to put it out. We covered most parts of the tunnel,” he said.

“It was 3 km of tunnel that we had to go through. We managed to put out the fire just before midnight.

Mulaudzi said the final assessment by JES was made around 11 a.m. Tuesday. This involved, among other things, checking the structural integrity of the area. “We just wanted to make sure the structure is still intact.”

Johannesburg firefighters work to put out the underground fire that caused a power outage in the CBD on March 28, 2022. (Photo: Neil McCartney/The Citizen)

Johannesburg residents should not worry about the fire resuming after the assessment, he said. Further assessments by other departments, such as the Department of the Environment, would be done.

This would allow City Power to begin repairs.

“We can confirm that so far all the work is in order,” Mulaudzi added. However, he was unable to say when City Power would start working in the tunnel.

No injuries had been reported.

The City of Johannesburg said the cause of the fire was being investigated and City Power crews were working on plans to partially restore power to some of the affected areas with backfeed from the sub- central station. Traffic would be affected by the outage.

The blaze set off two main power lines which affected most of Johannesburg and Selby, the city said. One of the tripped lines feeds the central substation which affects the entire CBD. The other power line touches most of the industrial areas and east of the city.

Johannesburg firefighters covered 3km of tunnel to put out the fire under the Johannesburg CBD on March 28, 2022. (Photo: Neil McCartney/The Citizen)

Gauteng is plagued by cable theft, which has been the leading cause of random fires and infrastructure collapses in the city of Johannesburg. The pulverized railway infrastructure is an example of this. The thieves first targeted and stole the cables.

City environment and infrastructure committee member Michael Sun confirmed Daily Maverick Tuesday afternoon that the fire had been put out late Monday night. It was still unsafe for City Power to enter the tunnel.

Sun confirmed that the cause of the fire was unknown and that the police will investigate.

When asked if the City ruled out cable theft or even aging infrastructure, he replied, “We can’t rule anything out at this time; nor do we rule out sabotage. We will ask the police to investigate. DM

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