Cold vagrants believed to have started fire at Jan Smuts Stadium

Part of Jan Smuts Stadium that was burnt yesterday
Part of Jan Smuts Stadium that was burnt yesterday
Image: Tyler Ridden

A fire that broke out yesterday morning at East London’s Jan Smuts Stadium, causing damage of around R800000, may have been started by vagrants trying to keep warm.

BCM spokeswoman Bathandwa Diamond said metro authorities were notified of the fire, which set a portion of the stadium building and stands ablaze, just after 6am.

Diamond said the blaze was successfully put out within two hours.

“The fire was totally extinguished and crews were back at the station at 8am,” said Diamond.

She said the fire started in an unused office beneath the stadium, probable by vagrants trying to keep warm.

“The flames spread quickly to the stadium’s seating area above the office, causing damage to the left corner of the stands and the roof near the stadium’s main entrance.

“At the moment we can give an unqualified amount of about R800000 for damage caused by the fire,” she said adding there were no reported injuries

K9 Security owner Anthony Nel was one of the first to notice the blaze as he left his offices yesterday morning at about 6am.

“I immediately contacted my controller for him to notify the fire department,” said Nel.

When the Dispatch team visited the stadium just a few hours after the flames had been extinguished, there was a vagrant looking for metal, still hot from the burnt-out room beneath the stands.

A passerby, who refused to be identified, commented that this was nothing new. Just a week ago thieves dug out wiring and piping from the athletic grounds, leaving a long ditch. – Additional reporting by Tyler Riddin