ON Monday protesters in Kya Sands, Joburg said all hell would break loose unless local companies gave them jobs.

So when a factory caught fire in the early hours of yesterday morning, some people were quick to blame the protesting residents.

But they told Daily Sun they did not burn the factory.

“We gave the companies 14 days to respond to our memorandum. The deadline has not passed, so we have no reason to torch any building,” said community representative Phumlani Makhubo.

A thick cloud of smoke billowed over the area yesterday.

Workers who reported for duty at Millbo Paper ended up sitting on the side of the road as their factory burned to ashes.

“I wonder whether we still have jobs?” said one employee.

Another employee said he was working night shift when the fire started.

“The company has two buildings, and my colleagues and I were working in one of them,” he said.

He said they saw smoke when they went to the other building.

“We knew it was burning, so we ran for our lives,” he said.

Factory manager Shane Isaacs told the People’s Paper they were not sure what had started the fire.

“I got a call early in the morning informing me the building was on fire. When I got there, the fire was spreading quickly,” he said.

Joburg Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman Nana Radebe said it took hours to extinguish the blaze as there were flammable materials like paper and glue.