Blaze guts businesses

S&S Panel and Spraypainting was gutted by fire.

A panel beating workshop was gutted and two other workshops were damaged when a fire broke out at the Alpha business park, previously known as the hive, in the Mitchell’s Plain industrial area, on Monday April 30.

At least 11 vehicles were gutted in the inferno.

It is believed that the fire started at S&S Panel and Spray painting, where the vehicles, belonging to clients, were parked. Businesses on either side of the workshop were also affected.

A barrier wall between the gutted workshop and Kolbee Collision Repairs will have to be demolished and rebuilt.

The business park has 38 units including seamstresses, bakeries, furniture, factory shops, engineers, mechanics and fish wholesalers.

Dennis Kolbee, a resident on the premises and head of security at the business park, said he smelled the smoke around 4am and alerted the police and fire services.

“You couldn’t see the flames, but I saw the smoke. I did what I had to do and called the police and the fire station,” he said.

He then called business owner of Kolbee Collision Repairs, Shamiel Kolbee, (no relation) who lives in Westridge. On arrival, Mr Kolbee moved his clients vehicles out of harm’s way. The fire was mostly contained within the buildings and no one was harmed.

Mr Kolbee, who is also the chairman of the body corporate which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the park, hopes that his business will be up and running within the next ten days.

“I don’t think this was caused by negligence,” he said. “We all follow the rules, like all plugs must be unplugged from the sockets. We are all well aware that one fire can wipe out all of these businesses.”

He said since June last year the corporate had spent about R600 000 to revamp the facility, to entice customers to support local businesses.

“We’ve plastered, painted and put in aluminium window frames,” he said.

Mr Kolbee called on Mitchell’s Plain residents to support business.

“Come and support this hive. It can create 100 jobs if our people buy and source goods and services on their doorstep,” he said. “Our children do not have to turn to drugs.”

Mr Kolbee is also the director of the Mr Price Soccer Mitchell’s Plain High Schools’ League.

The owner of S&S Panel Shop declined to speak to the Plainsman.

Johan Goosen, managing agent of the business park, said the fire had been reported to the insurance company, which covers the structural insurance for all 38 units.

Mitchell’s Plain police spokesman, Captain Ian Williams, said a case of arson was being investigated.

Theo Layne, Fire and Rescue services spokesman, said four business units were affected but could not confirm the cause of the fire.

Anyone with information can call Mitchell’s Plain police at 021 370 1706.