Maputo–A fire which broke out on Monday afternoon in Maputo Central Hospital (HCM), Mozambique’s largest health unit, has now been brought completely under control, although it severely damaged four of the six rooms of one of the surgery blocks.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, HCM general director Mouzinho Saide told reporters that the fire broke out shortly after 16.00 at the surgery block on the third floor. The smoke was limited to the old air conditioning system, which is made of metal and its inside wrapped with chipboard.
“Initially, there were very huge plumes of smoke, which came from the air conditioning system”, Saide explained, adding that the hospital called the fire brigade who promptly rushed to the scene to quench the fire. They were supported by the firefighting team from Maputo Airport.
The firefighters identified the origin of the fire inside the cooling system but were only able to extinguish it fully at around 02.00 on Tuesday morning.
“Four of the six rooms of the surgery block, which were undergoing rehabilitation, have recorded critical damage, and the two others that were operational have been partially affected, especially in the air conditioning terminals,” he stated, pointing out that the system had been switched off many years ago.
The air conditioning was connected to a closed machine room regarded as the likely origin of the fire. The firefighting teams had to break through one of the walls to put out the fire. They had to work through the night, as some pockets of fire would frequently re-ignite. On Tuesday, smoke could still be seen inside some rooms.
The electricity supply to the hospital’s administrative block and the 35 consultation departments was switched off as soon as the smoke was spotted. One ward, hosting two patients from the special clinic, had to be immediately evacuated.
“At the time the fire started, medical experts were performing a surgery which was successfully completed,” Saide assured.
A preliminary assessment by the fire brigade and other stakeholders has advised the hospital management to give some time for the waters to dry. The move has delayed the re-opening of the blood bank and the laboratory for clinical analyses and forced the hospital to adopt alternative measures.
Saide praised the decision taken by frontline workers who have collectively decided not to interrupt consultations, despite the lack of electricity.