Watch: No electricity at OR Tambo, as Eskom sub-station bursts into flames

OR Tambo – South Africa’s biggest airport – has been plunged into darkness on Sunday morning, after an Eskom sub-station caught fire in Kempton Park.


Ahead of a make-or-break week for Eskom, the power utility has been rocked onto the back-foot already. A major sub-station fire at Kempton Park has raised concerns, after power cuts were reported across the region and at OR Tambo International Airport. Operations at the facility have already been hit:

No power at OR Tambo International Airport – here’s why

The fire – spotted just after 10:00 on Sunday – has heavily-affected the City of Ekurhuleni’s 66kV and 132kV networks. As well as darkness engulfing Johannesburg’s airport, several other parts of the municipality are also without power. Areas affected by the sub-station fire include:

  • OR Tambo International Aiport
  • Isando & Spartan Industrial
  • Kempton Park CBD
  • Aston Manor
  • Bonaero Park.

Watch the Eskom sub-station fire here:

A video posted online shows plumes of black smoke filling the air above the Johannesburg hub. Crackling flames smother the key electricity point outside of OR Tambo, as the fire continued to rage before fire crews arrived on the scene. We are still waiting for confirmation on when the power will be restored.

Eskom: OR Tambo may not be the only place plunged into darkness this week…

Eskom have since confirmed emergency services are tackling the blaze, and that a transformer caught fire. They are yet to establish what sparked the blaze, but it’s the worst-possible news for the embattled firm.

The next seven days will be crucial, as increased electricity demand will crank-up the pressure on Eskom’s depleted energy output. Almost 14 000 MW remain off the grid on Sunday, and the threat of further load shedding looms. Losing power in one of the country’s most industrialised places is a logistical nightmare.