City probes fire at 'illegally built' Glenmore student accommodation
Several neighbours earlier raised the alarm over alleged non-compliance with building regulations, including building within the building line, exceeding the allowable building to land ratio and contending the owner of the property had not applied for special consent for this.
A neighbour, Ben Skevington, who earlier raised concerns about an electrical installation on the Bowen Road property, attended the scene to assist the owner of the property on the night of the fire.
“I saw sparks coming up from the ground and the fire department arrived and said we can’t go into the garden. It was dangerous. I am surprised the place didn’t catch fire,” Skevington said.
The owner of the property, who gave her name only as Fairy, said there were no injuries and the fire department had attended to the scene.
There are currently no students occupying the property. She said the fire department had removed an old electric meter from the property and she understood there had been a fault at a local substation.
EThekwini Municipality spokesman, Msawakhe Mayisela, said the city’s fire department had taken control of the scene.
“They demarcated the area using tape. They also waited outside the premises with the owner until there was no longer a spark or (the) area was safe. The electricity department was called to the scene to assist. The cause of the fire is being investigated,” Mayisela said.
He had earlier said the city had exhausted the first phase of enforcement in dealing with the development, which had allegedly been built without proper planning approval.
He said the city was now taking legal action against the owner and expected the court to either issue a demolition order or order that work stopped with immediate effect pending the submission and approval of plans.
Fairy earlier said plans for the accommodation to house 40 students had been submitted to the city last year and she had been considerate of her neighbours’ complaints.