Health department officials are assessing the damage to 11 bodies affected by a fire which broke out at the Salt River Mortuary on Wednesday.

City Fire and Rescue Services spokesperson Jermaine Carelse says firefighters were called to the scene shortly before 4pm where they received information about a container on fire.

“A fridge that is used to store bodies was alight and one of the six cooling fans was completely destroyed in the fire.

“The fire was extinguished at 4.24pm and the area had to be ventilated as it was extremely smoke-logged.”

He says there were no injuries reported and the cause of the blaze is unknown.

Forensic Pathology Services spokesperson, Deanna Bessick, said the fire started in one of the walk-in refrigerators which contained 70 corpses at the time of the fire.

Salt River Mortuary

“The fridge was full to capacity, with bodies on trolleys with a total of 70 bodies in the fridge at the time of the fire.

“There were 11 body bags melted and the nature and extent of injury, if any, will be assessed and reported by the Forensic Pathologist tasked to assess the remains.”

She said the autopsies on the affected bodies have been completed.

“These cases are all unidentified remains and we have therefore not been able to inform the next of kin. The damage appears to be superficial, however we are waiting for engineering to do an assessment of the damage.

“The FPS officials were very proactive in putting out the fire therefore saving further damage.”

IOL