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Isidingo set destroyed in massive fire

2012-06-14 07:33
Cape Town – The set of popular SABC3 soapIsidingo was destroyed on Wednesday night when a massive fire ripped through the studio in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, causing tens of millions of rands worth of damage.

The blaze broke out at the SABC's Henley Studios just after 20:00, completely destroying the Isidingo set of the Endemol SA production. The unexpected fire caused widespread panic and shocked SABC executives as well as the cast and crew when they heard the news.

The fire was eventually brought under control as firefighters battled the Isidingo blaze and nobody was injured.

No foul play

This is by far the biggest fire the South African public broadcaster has ever experienced at its Auckland Park headquarters in the history of the SABC, according to insiders who said that the SABC went into complete emergency mode shortly after the fire broke out.

The main concern was to keep SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 on the air and to not have the national television or radio transmission affected. The SABC is classified as a "national point of interest" and is a national strategic and safety and security concern.

The public broadcaster immediately mobilised as the Isidingo studio was being gutted by the raging fire. The SABC told Channel24 that no foul play is expected at this stage, but that the Isidingo studio, containing millions of rands of equipment and sets have been completely destroyed in the blaze. No cause for the Isidingo fire is yet known.

The fire has brought an immediate end to the production of the soap as well as other productions in the studio complex. The soap, which is pre-recorded about three months in advance, has several episodes in the can, so the series will not immediately disappear from television.

It will, however, immediately create huge pressure on the SABC, Endemol SA, the producers and SABC3 which broadcasts the show, which will  immediately start with emergency meetings on Friday.

'No break in transmission'

The SABC is extremely concerned about other possible related damage as well - damage to other adjacent sets, as well as the SABC building structurally and especially cabling running through the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters which will definitely also have been damaged in the blaze.

"There is no need for panic," SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told Channel24 just before midnight on Wednesday. He confirmed that the Isidingo set has been completely destroyed.

"Nobody has been injured. The loss of sets and equipment will total millions, but there is no need for panic. The SABC is operational, SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 are all broadcasting; there has been no break in transmission. And everything was insured. In the morning we will go and have a look and be able to check and see after the fire is out, what the true extent of the damage is."

"A thorough investigation will start in the morning as to the cause of the fire and the damage to the SABC, the studio and Isidingo," said Kganyago.

Related sets and therefore other SABC productions and TV shows on SABC1 and SABC2 could also be affected depending on the damage to the studio and sets. "We don't suspect foul play but serious investigations will start first thing in the morning."  

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