Braai flue causes fire at squash club

Members of the Fish Hoek Squash Club look on as firemen extinguish a fire that broke out on Tuesday evening November 1.

Thanks to the annual summer league, which was in full swing at the Fish Hoek Squash Club, a fire there on Tuesday November 1 did not spread to the rest of the club.

The fire was caused by radiated heat escaping from the braai’s flue, according to Jermaine Carelse, spokesman for the City’s Fire and Rescue Service.

Club chairwoman Vanessa Christensen said that while she had not been at the club on the night of the fire, eight teams of five each had arrived at the courts at 6.30pm to play summer league matches. Over and above the 40 players, she said, there had been extra club members, so about 50 people in total at the club.

Club treasurer Robert Brownlee said regular players often braaied after a game and had been doing so for years, so, as usual, there had been a fire going in the braai at the bar area.

Around 8.45pm, while players were still on the courts, a few people became aware of smoke in the club, which got “thicker and thicker”, he said.

Someone had realised there was a fire up the chimney, and one of the members, who does voluntary fire fighting and police work, had set to work with a fire extinguisher while the players had been evacuated and the fire services had been called, he said.

He said that according to the fire chief, a wooden beam next to the chimney had been exposed to high heat over the years, slowly turning it to charcoal, and it had eventually started burning on Tuesday night.

“The fire was contained in that area and due to quick action did not spread to the rest of the building, and everyone was evacuated safely. The wooden beam at the braai is damaged and due to the heat caused by the fire some of the paint has bubbled.”

Mr Carelse said the emergency call was received at 8.55pm and crews from Fish Hoek and Kommetjie Road fire stations were on the scene, with two fire engines. The fire was extinguished by 9.45pm.

Mr Carelse said one firefighter had sustained an injury and had been taken to the hospital for treatment.