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Paarl Print fire remembered

On the morning of 17 April 2009 workers of the Paarl Print factory in Oosterland Street, Dal Josafat, went to work as usual. It was supposed to be just another day at work, even better still, it was Friday.

But at 07:45 that morning, as most employees were going into the premises, no one would have anticipated that this would become a horrific day that would haunt them all for the rest of there lives, with 13 of there colleagues left dead in the aftermath.

After the investigation into the cause of the fire and why it spread so rapidly, causing an uncontrollable fire, the report stated that the fire began in the factory’s canteen due to a chip fryer that had not been switched off overnight and which ignited in the morning. The fire spread rapidly throughout the plant because of the ceiling panel insulation material, a “sandwich” of laminated polystyrene that is used widely around the country.

Although such panels are safer if they are 25 mm thick and properly installed, the 40 mm panels, such as those used at Paarl Print, pose a fire hazard, the report stated.

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