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South Africa: Transformer manufacturer investigating fire incident

Transformer manufacturer SGB-SMIT POWER MATLA says it has initiated an investigation following a fire incident that occurred at its Pretoria West plant, South Africa.

The company explained in a statement that its Test Board team was in the process of performing a temperature rise test on one of its units when the fire started.

“The investigation is presently underway to determine root causes, corrective actions and future preventative measures. The initial cause is an incipient fire that could not be safely extinguished by the team on site on Sunday [7 March 2021], which occurred whilst performing their testing duties,” the statement explained.

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According to the company, there were a number of immediate actions that were taken to manage the fire incident and contain any further impact, which included but not limited to the following:

  • All employees that directly worked in the affected section were immediately and safely evacuated to the emergency outdoor assembly safe area.
  • Immediate power sources to the building and supply of fuel sources to the affected section of the plant was isolated by SSPM staff, the City of Tshwane Fire Brigade and the City of Tshwane emergency services were immediately called for assistance.
  • The fire was successfully extinguished much later in the night. Furthermore, the plant was monitored till after midnight to respond to any secondary fires.

SGB-SMIT POWER MATLA noted that the incident is an unfortunate and unplanned event, “but we are relieved to report that no injuries were recorded. On arrival of the medical emergency service, our employees underwent the usual vital monitoring checks. 

“It is also important to report that there was no environmental incident recorded or noted. All water and other liquid flow was contained in the existing plant bunding areas, without contamination to the municipal flows.”

The factory is currently on lockout while the relevant authorities undertake and conclude their investigation.

“We confirm that the plant holds a valid permit for the storage and handling of all hazardous chemical substances used, amongst other statutory licenses and permits as required for site operations,” reads part of the statement.

SGB-SMIT POWER MATLA assured that the Cape Town distribution transformer plant is unaffected and continues with normal operations.

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.

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